Editor’s note: This letter is addressed to Squamish’s mayor and council. It was copied to The Chief for publication.
I commend you on taking some steps to encourage growth in Downtown Squamish (“DOS eyes downtown revitalization,” Chief, Jan. 31).
However, I caution you all to be aware of the current economics of developing downtown.
With the likes of Bowra and Co. selling condos downtown effectively owned by the Government of Canada through CMHC, and selling them at less than the so-called “hard construction cost,” a developer could start with a free condo mixed-use site downtown, and be “underwater” financially before putting a shovel in the ground.
This situation is not going to change by lowering DCC’s, taxes, and sprinkling a few pieces of art around and about, etc.
There are at least a dozen mixed-use condo sites for sale downtown with development permits. You know where they are — you keep extending these permits.
Not a single one of these projects will proceed in the current environment even if you dropped the DCC’s and taxes to zero.
So your recent initiatives are simply for the headlines really, to make it look like something is going on, when in fact nothing is going on.
Coun. Race summed it up better than I, in his recent post in the Chief.
So what are you to do that might make a difference?
Work on a strategy to get more jobs coming to Squamish.
When that happens in a meaningful way, there will be a market-driven demand for more housing downtown, and developers will proceed to build.
Until then, you are wasting time with these token incentives, which will not result in a single building going ahead.
However, if it makes you all feel good, and gets you a story or two in the local papers, then go for it! You are not fooling the people in the know.
But then what do I know, eh? Only 46 years successful experience in real estate finance (I was president of a bank), development and sales.
Also, in case you missed it, shops and stores north of the Mamquam River is where the action is happening.
I was there last night after 6 p.m. The area around London Drugs was brimming with activity. Lots of lights, stores open, etc.
Afterwards, I went downtown to get my mail.
You could have rolled a truckload of hand grenades down Cleveland Avenue and not harmed anyone. The place was deserted.
The death knell was placed on downtown some years ago, when all the new projects were approved in the north.
Squamish simply does not have the population base to overcome this situation, and the public have long ago voted with their feet, and mostly shop north of downtown.
What I have penned to you all here is probably not what you want to hear, but it is at least based on fact, not some story out of Alice in Wonderland.
Douglas R. Day
President and Owner
Garibaldi Springs Golf Course