This week’s news that a small but expansion-minded tech company, Quantum Technology, is planning to relocate to Squamish is a terrific development on the economic development front.
Yes, it’s only something like a dozen new, good-paying jobs at the outset. And by itself, it offers absolutely no guarantee it’ll lead to the establishment of “Squamicon Valley North” or anything resembling it. But at first blush it appears the scientific equipment the company produces has a small environmental footprint and that the jobs will be the sort that can support a family. When you’re a community looking for economic development, you can’t ask for much more than that. Welcome, Quantum Tech.
It’s difficult to say at this point what role the current council’s emphasis on economic development played in Quantum officials’ decision to settle here. Exactly a year into council’s mandate — Mayor Kirkham and his six colleagues were sworn in on Dec. 6, 2011 — it’s still far too early to declare any sort of victory on the economic development front.
ED was the first major priority set by the new council last March, the other two being transportation improvements and streamlining the District of Squamish’s business practices.
A year hence, the Transit Standing Committee continues to meet and weigh options for improving transportation. While some minor upgrades have been made to in-town transit — to better match bus times with school-bell times, for example — there’s been no visible movement on intercity transit. In fact, we could soon wind up being further behind, when B.C.’s Passenger Transportation Board weighs in on whether Greyhound’s application for a B.C.-wide cut in service will reduce the number of daily Vancouver-Squamish buses from seven to four.
The district has also taken steps to streamline its development approval processes, though again, not much has really occurred on the ground. Final approval (with conditions) of the long-sought Paradise Trails project — after an unexplained about-face from district staff, just six weeks after it recommended the project be turned down — appears to have been merely a matter of council stepping in and saying, “enough already.”
A third of the way through the 2011-’14 mandate, it’s no exaggeration to say that on all three key fronts, the job is still very much a work in progress.
— David Burke