Some Squamish residents at the municipality’s Downtown Neighbourhood Plan meeting last week said the meeting gave them a sense of déjà vu.
On Thursday (Jan. 30), the District of Squamish held an open house on its draft document that sets policies to steer the growth of the community’s heart.
The downtown Neighbourhood Plan (DNP) was created in 2008, but never adopted. Last November, council re-opened the dormant document with the aim of finalizing it in early spring.
But before they do, officials want to hear what the community has to say about the future vision of downtown, consultant Heather Evans told the gathering at the Howe Sound Inn and Brewing Co.
“A lot has happened since then  and that’s why we need to do the update,” Evans said.
The meeting kicked off with the presentation of an electronic questionnaire to the crowd. Participants were handed remotes to relay their votes onto a big screen. Of the approximately 40 people at the meeting, 39 per cent said the vision for downtown has to be welcoming and attractive, while 37 per cent said they wanted to see the area liven up. The district needs to focus on local economic diversity and connectivity, according to the real-time survey.
When Corinne Lonsdale was mayor of Squamish from 1993 to 2002, council heard from a “whole bunch of people” regarding a DNP, Squamish resident Patrick MacNamara said. At the time, a model of Squamish’s future downtown was shown, he said. Stores fronted Loggers Lane, making it an attractive hangout, MacNamara said, noting it resembled West Vancouver’s Ambleside area. Trees lined the town’s entryway and the overall plan was vibrant, he said. The district should work off that vision, MacNamara said.
“It was beautiful,” he said.
All sectors — arts, culture, and economics — are equally important to creating an energetic downtown, Squamish resident and local artist Krisztina Egyed said.
“I think the economy is a bigger concern for me right now,” she noted.
The district is conducting an online survey to gather feedback. To complete the questionnaire, visit www.squamish.ca and search Downtown Neighbourhood Plan.
“Then we are going to report back to you on what we heard,” Evans said.