The planned Garibaldi At Squamish ski resort that was placed under receivership in December has already found a bidder, despite the sale and investment solicitation process (SISP) having yet to commence, according to filings in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
Garibaldi At Squamish was envisioned to be an all-season resort that would allow for skiing and snowboarding in the winter, mountain biking in the summer, and tourism year-round. The site is a 6,800 acre property about 13 minutes north of downtown Squamish, near Garibaldi Lake, and the project was expected to be delivered in four phases across 30 years.
Now, the developers owe nearly $65M in unpaid loans.
The project was being undertaken by Vancouver-based developers Aquilini Development and Northland Properties, together as Garibaldi At Squamish Inc. (GAS Inc.) and Garibaldi At Squamish Limited Partnership (GAS LP), who do not own the property and instead hold an agreement with the Province of British Columbia for the rights to develop the property. Aquilini Development is owned by the Aquilini family, which owns the Vancouver Canucks and Rogers Arena, while Northland Properties is owned by the Gaglardi family, which owns the Dallas Stars.
The project was conceived over 20 years ago, but has been unable to progress in any substantial way. After receiving an Environmental Assessment Certificate (EAC) for the project on January 26, 2016, the developers were required by the EAC to have substantially started on the project by January 26, 2021. By then, the project had not progressed and the developers sought out a five-year extension to January 26, 2026, which was ultimately granted. The project still has not been able to progress, and no further extensions are permitted under the Province's Environmental Assessment Act.
Because GAS Inc. and GAS LP do not own the property, the project does not generate any income and has been dependent on third-party funding.
In 2018, GAS Inc. received loans of $2,280,082 from Aquilini Development and $14,492,071 from Garibaldi Resort Management Company, in the form of debentures — debt secured without collateral — with maturity dates of December 31, 2021. Aquilini Development's parent company is Aquilini Investment Group, whose Managing Director is Francesco Aquilini. His brother, Roberto Aquilini, is a director of Garibaldi Resort Management Company. Francesco and Roberto's father, Luigi Aquilini, also issued two loans to GAS LP through 1413994 BC Ltd.
GAS Inc. and GAS LP defaulted on their loan agreements in 2023, with the three aforementioned creditors then making demand for payment on August 3 for the sum of $64,897,339.40.
According to the court-appointed receiver, behind the scenes, there has been a "lack of consensus amongst Garibaldi's directors over the direction of the company and the future of the project" that has affected the ability to secure further funding to continue the project.
Because there is now a deadline of January 26, 2026, by which construction on the project has to commence, there is a ticking clock looming over the project and sale, as GAS Inc. and GAS LP would lose their development rights, the agreement with the Province would be nullified, and GAS Inc. and GAS LP would lose their primary asset.
Garibaldi At Squamish. (Northland Properties, Aquilini Development)
The Sales Process and Stalking Horse Bid
When the receivership application was granted in December, all parties were in agreement that the best course of action was to commence a SISP process. The application seeking approval to commence the SISP process was filed this week, and provides a timeline of how the process will unfold, while also revealing that a bid has already been brought forth.
If approved, the sales process will commence on January 23 with a marketing stage. Letters of intent will then be secured and reviewed throughout February, before a final bid is identified by March 26 at the latest. The sales agreement will then be finalized on March 28, with an outside closing date of April 1.
This sales process would unfold with the already-received bid serving as a stalking horse bid — an initial offer conditional on no better bid being received. The bid was made by Aquilini LP, Garibaldi Resort Management Company, and 1413994 BC Ltd. — the three creditors who sought out the receivership — in what is referred to as a credit bid, a bid where a secured creditor bids its secured debt against the purchase of the secured collateral.
The purchase price of the bid is $80.41M, which the receiver believes to be "fair value given the attributes of the property and the project and risk and costs associated with completing the EAC on or before the EAC Deadline."
Commencing with the sales process with a stalking horse bid in place "has the effect of creating a reserve price (or floor price) for the Garibaldi property and provides some certainty of business continuity that will be helpful in ensuring continued support from suppliers, consultants, and other stakeholders while also ensuring the work necessary to satisfy the time sensitive EAC Conditions is undertaken," according to the receiver.
For other bids to qualify, they will have to exceed the stalking horse bid by $1M. If a better bid is received, the stalking horse bidder will have the opportunity to revise their bid.
The proposed sales process will be considered in a hearing on Monday, January 22.