Well, here we are coming down the home stretch! Just eight months until we have a new council. I must say I understand City Hall now. It is not what I expected when I started. I now realize the time required to do anything — i.e. process.
I have seen and met with most of the great volunteer groups in town while in office. Be they history, sport, art, environmental or social, they are the backbone of our community. Within these groups lays an untapped resource. We at City Hall have drifted away from assisting, supporting and empowering many of these groups. In many cases, we advise them, but pull back from helping. Council and staff must learn to work as a team to empower this sleeping giant.
Seems we have bigger things to deal with: omnibus bills, neighborhood plans, zoning updates, OCP rewrites and economic strategies, to name a few. Not to say these are not needed but a fair amount of resources go in this direction and not enough in the direction of leveraging our volunteers. As a result of these strategies and plans, some good action items arise, but now here is the disconnect: action items get overlooked as time goes by, forgotten only to make room for more up-to-date strategies and plans. Council needs to make it clearer to staff to fulfill more of these actions, especially when it pertains to volunteer efforts.
On a more positive note, two of Squamish’s most innovative entrepreneurs, David Crewson and Mario Gomes gave last week’s Economic Development Committee a presentation on their new business (Start Up Squamish) that kicks off March 1. Their new workplace is at the entrance to downtown next to the landmark Mountain Burger House. A shared co-working office space, mostly hi-tech, will be an incubator for new businesses. Such incubator offices attract creative minds, which helps achieve a higher success rate in startups. This benefits everyone.
Entrepreneurs are responsible for most of the job creation. Boulder, Colo., has followed this theme and now boasts the highest concentration of entrepreneurs in the world, building a community that creates innovative new businesses. We have a gap in terms of being able to effectively resource startups and Start Up Squamish should help fill that gap. In our quest to attract tech businesses, we have the environment, outdoor recreation, intellectual resources and fiber that is needed. A digital strategy for Squamish is something that would help make things a lot clearer to investors. I am hoping that the district can help the new Start Up office complete a digital strategy. Economic Development Committee chair, Coun. Sander, has offered the committee’s assistance.