The District of Squamish council this week nixed a proposed parking lot for the new turf field.
On Tuesday (July 24), municipal staff recommended that council authorize a parking lot next to the new artificial turf field that would cost approximately $100,000. Originally, district officials contemplated spending $180,000 upgrading the parking area north of the all-weather fields.
However, if the Squamish Soccer Association’s plan to build a second field nearby comes to fruition, the parking improvements would be temporary, district capital works engineer Greig Garland said. The proposed alternative could ultimately become the permanent parking space, eliminating the need to spend money on a temporary facility, he said.
But councillors weren’t buying it. The proposal came fast-tracked with the added desire to facilitate the Aug. 24 to 26 Live at Squamish music festival. Squamish’s first turf field has left Live at Squamish scrambling to replace parking lost because the new field.
Parking needs to be looked at under the current Parks and Recreation Master Plan review, Coun. Patricia Heintzman said, not done under the gun. There are many alternative parking spaces that Live at Squamish could use, she said, including Brennan Park Recreation Centre and the forestry building.
Cash was on the minds of Councillors Ron Sander and Susan Chapelle. So far, the turf field has come at least $600,000 under its original $1.7 million budget, meaning the district may not have to touch $683,185 it was going to borrow for the project.
The parking request widens the scope of the approved project, Coun. Ron Sander warned. Just because there’s money left over doesn’t mean the district should spend it, he noted.
“We have to maintain what we originally approved for the taxpayer,” Sander said.
Chapelle said she would prefer spending that money on alternative transportation and buses for the community. The soccer association just got a turf field and the district should spread out its spending, Chapelle said.
Race disagreed. Focusing on the Live at Squamish parking need is a “red herring,” he said. Parking has always been a part of the overall turf field plan, he said.
The motion failed, with Sander, Heinztman, Chapelle voting against recommendation. Coun. Bryan Raiser was absent from the meeting.