Squamish needs a plan for the future of the former B.C. Rail lands if it wants to move forward on economic development, says a Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) director.
As outlined in the District of Squamish’s 2011 Intergovernmental Cooperation Accord, the municipality, along with the Squamish Nation, are applying to B.C. Rail Properties and the province to acquire the former railway company’s land. But that’s where the information stops, Electoral Area D director Moe Frietag said.
“The point is, what is the plan?” he asked, adding that developers need clarity.
There’s been no conversation regarding whether the “employment lands” will be set aside for industrial development or designated for a commercial purpose, Frietag said. Such information would aid regional planning, allowing the SLRD an opportunity to balance out development, he said.
B.C. Rail Properties is currently remediating environmental contamination on some of its Squamish lots, including areas in the North Yards, Frietag noted.
“If you are remediating lands to a certain standard, there must be a plan,” he said.
Ministry of Environment (MoE) environmental approvals are required before the contaminated land can be subdivided or released, Coun. Patricia Heintzman said at Squamish’s Economic Development Standing Committee meeting on Nov. 20.
“We are waiting for MoE to sign off on those lands,” she said.
At that point B.C. Rail Properties can choose to sell or lease the property, Heintzman told The Chief, adding she wasn’t sure whether the North Yards lot was being eyed by the district.
Squamish’s Official Community Plan (OCP) designates that area for industrial use, she said. However, industrial use is a loose term, Heintzman said.
Neil Plumb, the district’s manager of real estate, said he hasn’t heard anything other than the municipality using that land for industrial purposes.
“I know B.C. Rail [Properties] is itching to get going,” he said.
Between 15 to 20 B.C. Rail lots dot Squamish, district spokesperson Christina Moore said. That includes the CN downtown railway spur. In June, district officials said negotiations on acquisition of land were 10 per cent complete. Details of such acquisitions remain in camera as they’re ongoing, Moore noted. It may be approximately three to six months before there might be finality on any of the properties, she said.