As part of our coverage for the 2022 municipal election, The Squamish Chief sent out questionnaires to all candidates running either for council or the mayor’s office. Identical questions were provided to each candidate, who had the chance to send written responses.
What follows are the unedited responses for this candidate. Those who did not respond by press deadline do not have answers to publish.
Furthermore, candidates were also invited to film a short elevator pitch. This candidate’s elevator pitch is embedded in this story.
Please state your name and political party
Armand Hurford (He/Him) Independent
How do you think council can help with the housing affordability crisis in Squamish?
As Mayor, I will ensure any and all regulatory tools be used to positively affect the affordability crisis. As chair of Squamish's new Housing Society, I have a very solid understanding of what the needs and possible solutions are such as:
1) Community Amenity Contributions (CAC) policy is under review and affordable housing needs to have more weight in this policy going forward.
2) Support for the housing Society and their work.
3) Property tax exemptions to support both existing and new affordable housing units as appropriate.
4) Ongoing advocacy to the province (housing is a provincial responsibility after all!) to secure lands and/or funds for future projects.
5) Encouraging the "missing middle" housing forms to provide more choices in housing types and price-points.
6) Continued investment in local transit will make it easier and less expensive to move around the community. Further advocacy to the Province for a regional transit system.
Any and all tools available!
Some locals have been calling for a pause on development on private land, but council does not have the power to do that. How will you reconcile that disconnect?
The changes have been coming at us fast the last few years, I feel it too. As noted in the question, municipalities have very few tools to control the timing of development. The most powerful tool we have to control timing as well as ensure development occurs in a manner that results in a net benefit to the community is the Growth Management Boundary. There has been pressure from landowners outside the boundary to develop their land. To give up what is a very effective tool to pace development, the Mayor, Council and the community at large will need to assess the potential impact of such a move and both the positive and negative consequences of doing so. Mayor and councils work is to continually refine policy to ensure projects that do come forward are net benefits to the community with things like affordable housing and daycare spaces while not further exasperating existing issues. Development isn't inherently a bad thing but needs strong independent leadership to manage.
Do you own property in Squamish? When was the last time you were a renter?
I do not own property in Squamish and currently rent. I have lived in four different places since elected to council in 2018. My rent is now approximately 3 times higher than it was in 2018 for roughly a third of the space. I bring my lived experience as a renter and as an employer who has continual staffing challenges directly related to this issue to the council table every time I sit down. I live this issue daily.
How do you typically get to work? When was the last time you rode a bus?
I live downtown and have two jobs. When I am going to council I generally walk but do ride my bike or skateboard when the mood strikes. When I'm heading to work at my bicycle store in Brackendale, I try to ride my bike, take the bus and as a last resort drive. I take the bus 3 or 4 times a month on average and am looking forward to the planned expansions as the service will become more and more convenient to use. I do end up driving to access various adventure spots with my antisocial dog fairly often.
Have you had to find child care in Squamish?
I have had to find child care in Squamish but not in quite some time. My daughter is nearing her twenty first birthday. Even back when she required child care it was a challenge to find and afford. I have been paying acute attention to this topic as I empathize with the families currently in need of child care as well as those that do have care but it's VERY expensive. This issue has created a hole in our workforce with many families unable to return to work after paternity leave. As Mayor I will be continue to push hard on this for the many young families in Squamish.
Do you or have you ever owned a business in Squamish? Do you pay commercial rent?
Since 2007 (15.5 years!) I've owned and operated Republic Bicycles in Brackendale. Leasing space is part of this starting with the 450sqft space and now the 4000sqft space. So, yes I pay a commercial lease including insurance and triple net and on and on. Squamish is a challenging and rewarding place to do business, I know and understand this intimately.
In your opinion, does Squamish have a parking problem? If so, what will you do about it?
There are parking challenges in various areas of our community. Downtown I feel metering needs to be explored as a way to ensure there is movement and thus more opportunities for a space to be available for use. This is a complex solution and requires some solid planning to avoid any negative knock-on effects. On street parking is paid for by the tax payers and we are currently giving it away effectively subsidizing those using it. This is a project that is underway and the new Mayor and Council will be tasked to consider. The idea of a parkade has been floated over the years, I have read the many reports on this topic and I feel this is not a viable option at this time due to the cost being astronomical and much higher facilities needs such as the many aspects of Brennan Park, a new Library and Municipal offices.
What ways would you support council addressing the climate crisis?
Squamish, like much of North America, is feeling the effects of climate change. While Squamish and its citizens need to do everything in their power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Squamish must also adapt to the changes that are underway.
Squamish must filter its decisions and policies to ensure that they serve to both reduce emissions and ensure that Squamish’s capital investments and infrastructure are designed to withstand and protect from forest fires, droughts, heat waves and severe unseasonal weather.
Greenhouse gas reductions efforts and adapting our infrastructure to meet the impacts of a changing climate is good environmental and economic policy.
This means weaving climate policy further into the very fabric of every aspect of the municipality's functions. The climate emergency motion, Community Climate Action Plan, Active Transportation and transit expansion are all examples of ways I've already supported these efforts as a councillor.
The municipality has control over passing bylaws, budget planning and approval, committees, board and commission appointments and general oversight of municipal administration. Within those powers, what didn’t the last council do that you want to make a priority?
I am proud of how far this council was able to push on facility replacement and am excited to tackle the complexity of what's next on the list. It's exciting to see the victory of receiving a large grant ($11.7M) from the federal government for Brennan Park and am looking forward to continuing this trend. These opportunities are only awarded to organizations who are ready to put shovels in the ground from a planning perspective. We are ready and will continue to chase funding to execute. As a former member of the library board, I am also excited at what a new library could be in Squamish. The municipal offices are also needing a solution. All these projects are intertwined financially and will take careful consideration of each move but once completed will dramatically change service delivery in our community. Perhaps we'll also finally get our community forest granted to us by the province and some action on regional transit? I hope to be there to continue to move forward on these.