It’s an idea that’s years away, but if Squamish wants a downtown pedestrian walkway, it’d better start planning now, says a local elected official.
Revitalizing the community’s heart will take a lot more than changing flower boxes, Doug Race said. It’s about creating connectivity, thinking outside the box and building attractions people want to visit, he said.
That’s where Race believes his long-term idea of transforming southern portions of Loggers Lane into a vehicle-free zone fits in.
“I think it would help development to connect with the waterfront,” Race said.
Once an alternative commercial and industrial truck route is chosen, Race’s vision is to change the downtown portion of Loggers Lane — from Winnipeg to Vancouver streets — into a pedestrian walkway. That would encourage commercial fronts along both Cleveland Avenue and Loggers Lane, while also connecting future developments along the Mamquam Blind Channel with downtown, Race said.
The crossroads would remain the accesses to the waterfront lots and, as with Vancouver’s famous Granville Street. Commercial vehicles would be allowed on the walkway during certain hours to serve businesses.
“Loggers Lane was never intended to be the access for the oceanfront,” Race said.
Most vibrant communities have a focal point, such as a town square, he noted, adding that the concept would fill that gap for Squamish. The idea also links O’Siyam Pavilion Park with the District of Squamish’s newly acquired Mamquam Blind Channel waterfront lot, located between Victoria and Main streets.
If it’s a plan municipal officials decide to back, they must do so soon, Race said. The Mireau project to the north of the district’s parkland is forging ahead. Development firm Solterra owns the former Pac West site on Cleveland Avenue between Main and Vancouver streets, which is zoned for commercial and residential. The builders of those projects need to know their access points before breaking ground, Race said.
“The pedestrian walkway would also give them the option of putting commercial [space] on the back side of the buildings,” he said.
The idea has not been discussed at council, Mayor Rob Kirkham said. There are a multitude of issues that would need to be examined in regards to the plan, he said.
“There are just so many factors that come into play,” he said.