05/21/2015 01:58 EDT | Updated 05/21/2016 05:59 EDT

Garibaldi at Squamish ski resort developer says project will 'tame' pristine area

The developer of a proposed ski resort north of Squamish, B.C., says his project will provide ongoing jobs and make the backcountry more accessible to more people, despite concerns that it would devastate the area's pristine landscape.

The Garibaldi at Squamish ski resort would include an all-season mountain resort with ski trails, hotels, and market housing.

The project has been in development for two decades and is making its way through the province's environmental assessment process. 

Wolfgang Richter, founder and vice-chairman of the Garibaldi at Squamish ski resort, says viability for the $5.2 billion project can be demonstrated by the recent success of the Sea to Sky Gondola, which opened last spring.

"The gondola has demonstrated if you provide access for everybody but the hardcore backcountry adventurers to the alpine, what a draw that is," said Richter.

The controversial project has prompted criticism from residents in the region who would prefer to see the area stay undeveloped.

But Richter said in recent years the area has become less wild and more of an outdoor park.

However, he agreed that the project would alter the region's landscape. 

"Frankly we're going to tame that somewhat and provide more access to a greater variety of people," said Richter. 

He said the public consultation process will allow those concerned to address any issues they may have with the proposed resort. 

"It is a large project, and an aspect to this is the public wants to know what it is," said Richter. "There's a lot of misunderstanding." 

Richter also addressed concerns about the long-term sustainability of the project, given the warm winter and lack of snow at many ski resorts around Vancouver this past winter.

"One of the aspects of Whistler and our mountain is we are substantially higher than the mountains around Vancouver, so that helps us mitigate that concern," he said.

An open house for the project is scheduled for Thursday, May 21 in Squamish and the public is invited to comment on the project until June 22.