A residential development is feeling the squeeze as municipal officials examine diking options along the Mamquam Blind Channel.
The four-storey building on the waterfront lot at the end of Winnipeg Street was first proposed by Westmana Developments in 2007. Early this year, the project — which failed to get off the ground when the global recession hit in 2008 — was resurrected by new owner John Doyle.
Now dubbed the Mireau project, the proposal requires an updated plan for the design and construction of a sea dike along the foreshore.
In 2011, the provincial government unveiled stringent sea dike regulations that significantly impact the project, District of Squamish planner Sarah McJannet told council at Committee of the Whole on Oct. 22. New measures require a one-metre increase to flood construction levels to account for the sea level rise expected between now and the year 2100 and two metres by 2200, requirements that will potentially reduce future developable areas. The new rules state that construction must take place 7.5 metres away from the land side of the dike's toe.
The district started its three-year Flood Hazard Management Plan review this year. On the table are options to place the downtown peninsula's primary dike along the waterfront or along Loggers Lane, with the latter alternative holding a smaller price tag. With no clear direction on which alignment will stick, municipal staff asked that the proponent make provisions for both proposals.
“Basically, keep our options open,” municipal engineer David Roulston said. “This poses significant challenges for development before the update.”
However, it allow the development to move forward, he said, adding that flood-protection measures implemented for Mireau will be precedent setting for future waterfront development in the area.
Squamish's solution to rising sea levels won't be the same as that of other communities, Coun. Doug Race said, noting that unlike West Vancouver's shoreline, Squamish's oceanfront is somewhat protected from large swells by Watts Point. As such, he said officials need to use a common-sense approach to the design rather than a cookie-cutter plan created for the entire region.
Race suggested staff investigate more vertical dike options. The new provincial guidelines for dikes eat away at all the Mamquam properties' water lots, Race said, noting the dike's long slope.
“Lots of these developments want marinas,” Race noted.
Mayor Rob Kirkham directed staff to work with the developer to create a solution that works for both parties. Municipal employees have wiggle room to play with, he said.
“Council is very intent that this project move ahead,” he said.