The District of Squamish is set to establish a economic development committee that gives the public a larger voice.
On Tuesday (Oct. 16), District of Squamish council approved the Economic Development Standing Committee’s request to establish an economic development select committee or task force. The committee will be made up of 10 to 12 economic development representatives and given a mandate to move the economic development strategy forward.
Struck by Mayor Rob Kirkham, the committee currently consists of three members — councillors Susan Chapelle, Patricia Heintzman and Ted Prior — and Squamish residents who share advice at meetings. The committee members are the only participants able to make motions that must then go before council for approval.
The latest move will give public members voting power and the ability to put motions forward. It’s an interim step to help the municipality decide whether such a committee should be held within the district or as a separate society, Heintzman noted.
Coun. Doug Race initially expressed concern over the move. Economic development is this council’s “baby,” he said.
“Personally I would like to keep [the committee] right where it is,” Race added.
He was swayed by further debate. Armed with the knowledge that the task force is an interim step and that council will have final say on its request, Race backed the motion that was passed unanimously.
Down by the water
The push to build a walkway along the Mamquam Blind Channel is heading to the planning table.
At the Oct. 2 Economic Development Standing Committee meeting, Prior recommended that council ask district staff to look at options for placing a boardwalk along waterway, a move he said has been discussed for far too long. Numerous documents allude to the idea, he noted on Tuesday. The project could be developed as a part of a temporary berm outlined in the municipality’s 1995 flood management plan.
Backed by council, the concept will be examined as part of the district’s strategic planning vision and downtown revitalization initiatives.
Race warned the project is not as easy as it may seem. The walkway would cross over private property. Building a dike for protection is one thing, but allowing public access to the area is another, he said. If private property owners aren’t on board with the idea, the project could be a big waste of district staff’s time, Race said.
Pay for a say
The district has joined regional politicians in the call for Greyhound to maintain its current level of service to the Sea to Sky Corridor.
Council endorsed a Squamish-Lillooet Regional District letter objecting to the lack of consultation with local governments before the corporation announced it was contemplating slashing Vancouver-to-Squamish runs from seven to four a day.
“There was very little local government consultation in this,” Heintzman said.
Adding to the stink is a $50 fee one most pay to enable them to participate in the comment period for Passenger Transportation Board’s application process for the Greyhound changes, she noted. Heintzman called the notion that officials have to cough up cash to disagree with the move “ludicrous.”
Council backed a motion to outline its concerns over the fee.
Bye Bye cinema
No one has voiced concern over Squamish’s former cinema turning into retail space, says Chris Bishop, District of Squamish director of planning.
On Tuesday, a public hearing was held on the rezoning amendment that would expand theatre’s uses from cinema only to retail ventures, such as a fitness centre, restaurant, stores and indoor recreation. Fifty-one notices were sent out to neighbouring business owners outlining the application, Bishop said.
“No written comments have been received to date,” he said.
The rezoning does have a maximum limit in terms of retail space in the facility, but not a minimum, Bishop noted. When the application was initially presented, Coun. Patricia Heintzman voiced concern over this detail, stating she didn’t want to see the building transform into a mini-mall.