The District of Squamish needs to wake up to the commercial industries’ transportation requirements because they’re not going away, says a forestry specialist.
The municipality’s many transportation plans each provide separate pieces of the puzzle regarding truck routes, railway and marine transportation, said Mike Wallace, chair of the Sea to Sky Forestry Centre Society. Big chunks of the picture are missing, he told the Squamish Transit Standing Committee on Tuesday (Nov. 13).
“We need access to roads, rail and water to and from the District of Squamish,” Wallace said. “You cannot look at this from an industry point of view piecemeal.”
Since April, the Garibaldi Forest Products Ltd. log sort, at the south end of Loggers Lane, has received 2,855 truckloads of lumber, which equates to 40 to 50 logging trucks rolling along Loggers Lane per day, Wallace said. As downtown Squamish undergoes densification, pedestrian and traffic issues will arise, he warned.
“That is a critical issue I think for everybody because of safety concerns,” Wallace said. “It is not something that is going away tomorrow.”
Trucks travelling to and from the Squamish Terminals are already dealing with tight turns and congestion. At a transit committee meeting in September, Terminals president Ron Anderson said traffic and parked vehicles on Vancouver Street and Third Avenue are making driving difficult for truckers. The Cleveland connector from Loggers Lane is a squeeze, he added.
The truck routes from Highway 99 to waterfront commercial facilities are “a bit of a challenge,” district capital works engineer Greig Garland agreed. If district officials move forward with their vision of expanding public space along the Mamquam Blind Channel, staff needs to find a way to separate pedestrians and trucks, he noted.
That desire might require the consideration of the 7th Street proposal — a roadway to run beside the CN Rail line through the Squamish Estuary to the Squamish Terminal — Garland said.
“Maybe that’s the tradeoff with the estuary,” he said, noting the plan would likely require an environmental review.
The district needs to establish an updated Marine Strategy Plan, former Squamish harbour master Tom Bruusgaard said. Squamish Terminals has approximately 150 deep-water ship calls a year, he said. If Woodfibre was to re-activate in some capacity, district officials can expect an additional 100 ships travelling through Howe Sound per year, Bruusgaard said.
The mixed-used, 4,000-home development slated for Britannia Beach includes a marina, Bruusgaard noted, and West-Barr Contracting Ltd. is decommissioning its log sort in the Squamish Estuary and moving to the Mamquam Blind Channel. Compounding everything is the growth of wind sports in the area, Bruusgaard said.
The district is losing out on potential economic development by not having a clear marine strategy in place, forestry consultant Eric Andersen said, noting the last time the municipality reviewed its marine strategy was in 1991.
“Major investments are on hold,” Andersen said.
The Transit Standing Committee passed a recommendation to forward to council. It requests that district staff be given sufficient time and resources in the 2013 budget for staff, the public, commercial and industry representatives to review the Marine Strategy Plan, Squamish Estuary Management Plan, Multi-Model Transportation Plan, Downtown Squamish 2031 Transportation Plan and Official Community Plan with respect to items in the existing plans in order to accommodate for current and future commercial and industrial transportation.