Last month The Chief reported that Coun. Ted Prior was pushing the idea of building a four-foot-high dike and walkway along the downtown side of the Mamquam Blind Channel — that Prior, in fact, had said point blank that the idea was the reason he ran for council in the first place.
In the past few months, Prior has taken his idea to lots of different groups — the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Squamish Business Improvement Association, to name just two. He calls it a “quick fix” because not only would it help protect the downtown core from flooding — the high-tide line is only a few inches below the current bank in one spot — and the walkway would show the district’s commitment to incorporating the Blind Channel waterfront into the downtown core. That, in turn, would boost the value of property along the channel, potentially leading to private investment — all this for an estimated cost of around $45,000.
While Prior this week voiced his passion for the idea of a recreational trail from the Adventure Centre along the Blind Channel to the yacht club, he lamented the fact that that he can’t talk to affected landowners about it. Council, after all, has to act as a group, which is why Prior set about the task of convincing his council colleagues to add the project to the elected body’s list of strategic priorities for 2013.
At the moment, the Blind Channel waterfront is an eyesore divided by fences erected there in 2009 by B.C. Rail Properties after the council of the day rejected a proposal to built a 212-unit apartment complex on 3.96 acres of land that make up Blocks 42 and 43. At the time, lawmakers voiced concerns over the four-storey buildings’ potential to affect viewscapes along the waterway.
Maybe those concerns are legitimate ones, but we think it’s time to get all the affected landowners — including the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, which absorbed B.C. Rail Properties’ assets when that entity dissolved in 2010 — to the table in an attempt to get the dike and walkway built.
The scheme, in fact, is all right there in the Downtown 2000 plan — a document that Prior had to dig up and persuade district staff to re-post it on the DOS website. Check it out. If done right, such a project could indeed be the “quick fix” that the downtown core desperately needs.
— David Burke