If Squamish wants to keep its industry health, the municipality needs to keep its arteries open.
The Sea to Sky Forestry Society is urging the District of Squamish to solidify future industrial and commercial access routes through the community. As downtown grows, industrial traffic travelling to Squamish Terminals and the area’s log sorts is getting squeezed out, society chair Mike Wallace said at the district’s Select Committee on Transportation Issues meeting on Monday (Jan. 6).
Industrial transportation issues need to be moved along, he said. In an effort to add momentum to the discussions, the society proposed a list of short- and long-term recommendations to the transit committee.
“If we don’t shove it out on the floor, it won’t get stepped on,” Wallace said.
Completing the work necessary to develop the 7th Avenue connector or an alternative industrial traffic route through downtown Squamish to Highway 99 topped the list.
District officials are already examining the 7th Avenue proposal, Coun. Doug Race said. Last May, council voted to have staff explore the long-proposed route, which would run beside the CN Rail line through the Squamish Estuary to Squamish Terminals.
The main issue is money, Race noted, adding a rough estimate puts the bill at more than $30 million.
No matter how one slices it, traffic infrastructure will be required when the Squamish Oceanfront is constructed, said Squamish resident Chris Pettingill. He questioned whether the district is putting money aside for the such a project.
The district has a reserve fund for paving existing roads, but no reserve for the construction of new ones, Race answered. Municipal officials are attempting to put more money into reserves, but it’s not an easy task, Race noted, adding that doing so affects municipal taxes. Money for the 7th Avenue connector will likely have to be borrowed or sought for in a provincial or federal grant, he said.
The transit committee passed the forestry society’s recommendations. They will be forwarded to council for discussion.