It may be hard to believe, but it’s been almost a year since we went to the polls to elect our present municipal council. After a quick review of the track record, should we genuflect, or toss rotten tomatoes in their general direction?
From a developer’s viewpoint, the news is good. The Business Processing Standing Committee is simplifying the tangled application web faced by developers and looking into speeding up the application procedure for new businesses. Over in Brackendale, the Rivendale project is at the building stage and the Paradise Trails equestrian development received the green light recently.
Two weeks ago, the B.C. Ministry of Environment served notice that it intends to issue a park-use permit for the ambitious Sea to Sky Gondola project, after the venture was wholeheartedly endorsed by council.
District officials are in the process of spending half a million dollars to help boost the town’s flagging economy. In July 2011 a new economic sustainability co-ordinator was appointed, followed by the hiring of an assistant. Both additions will be key agents in the district’s Business Retention and Expansion Program.
Last week council approved the Economic Development Standing Committee’s (EDSC) request to establish a task force consisting of 10 to 12 residents who will be authorized to help move the “Squamish is open for business” agenda forward.
Although that sounds good on paper, from a procedural point of view the problem is that more people around a table offering advice is not necessarily a better idea. Larger aggregations present a greater risk of bogging down and bringing the business at hand to a grinding halt. If EDSC members can park their egos and personal baggage at the door, this could work. If not, get ready for a major fireworks display. And some observers are also worried the district will expend too much energy on local business retention at the expense of soliciting new ventures.
Another appointment with plenty of upside is our new communications manager. The concern is that this position will serve more as a muni hall mouthpiece, mostly for feel-good stories, and less as a media liaison ready to answer the tough questions. Recently the district invoked a code of silence when inquiries were made about the sudden departure of two key staff members. A number of local reporters will attest that at times extracting information from the hermetically sealed municipal bunker on Second Avenue was difficult, with few options available short of triggering a freedom of information search. We can only hope that trend will now be reversed.
However we look it, so far this council has lived up to campaign promises to advance hot-button issues. Let’s stay tuned to see where all these initiatives take us.