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
Mike Young - Squamish First
How do you think council can help with the housing affordability crisis in Squamish?
Council can fast track affordable housing and purpose-built rentals. These applications should be prioritized based on the needs of our community.
Collaboration and strengthening relationships with the Provincial, Federal Government and First Nations is essential to creating more attainable housing for everyone. An aligned Council with focus is integral to success, which hasn’t been the case in the past.
The Squamish Community Housing Society is a great initiative, but more needs to be done moving forward to make significant, lasting change.
Housing affordability impacts everyone from our youth to our seniors. We want our children to have the opportunity to continue to live, work and play in the place they love to call home. We want to ensure our seniors and the middle class have housing options. We want to make certain that we have adequately provisioned for transitional, supportive, and subsidized social housing.
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?
Development needs to be immediately paused to allow our community to create the necessary community amenities, infrastructure, and services to catch up with our growth.
Our elected officials have ignored the public outcry to slow down development.
The numbers of units built over the past two terms is staggering. We are all witnessing the impact of those decisions.
Council has limited powers to affect development on property that is already zoned.
However, they do have the authority to make decisions relating to future rezoning and land use planning.
I would propose placing a temporary freeze on development in the downtown core until council creates an adequate land use plan that protects our treasured landscape views, heritage and puts public safety first. Downtown rezoning applications will be put on hold and a pause will be placed on the proposed densification of Garibaldi Estates. Exceptions will be made for affordable and attainable purpose built-rental housing.
Do you own property in Squamish? When was the last time you were a renter?
When my wife and I moved to Squamish in 2001, we were fortunate to be able to purchase our first home. Prior to moving to Squamish, we were renting in the lower mainland.
Due to the nature of my business, I have witnessed first-hand the ebb and flow of vacancy rates, the cost of rent, and real estate values in Squamish. I understand the housing challenges that we are faced with and the impact that it has on our small businesses.
How do you typically get to work? When was the last time you rode a bus?
Earlier this year, I purchased an e-bike to commute to work when the weather and my schedule cooperate. When not on my bike, I usually drive my compact company vehicle.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of my business, which includes evening meetings, last-minute issues, and emergencies, I am unable to use public transit.
I recognize that expanding public transit and accessibility is essential to the success of our community. It has been another area that has been overlooked.
We need to be creative and look to other communities of similar size, growth patterns and change for innovative opportunities to address these challenges.
Have you had to find child care in Squamish?
My kids (aged 16 & 13) were born in Squamish, it was extremely difficult to find childcare then, so I understand many of the childcare challenges that we are faced with today.
I was proud to be part of the team that helped construct the Sea to Sky Community Services early learning center on Second Ave. My daughter attended the infant and pre-school program there. Even back then, infant and toddler programs were something that had to be planned for well in advance. It’s a systemic problem that exists not only in BC but throughout Canada.
The fact that development has been unprecedented and lacking any strong leadership or pro-active planning, our community does not have the infrastructure or resources to keep up with basic needs including childcare. Families deserve more.
Do you or have you ever owned a business in Squamish? Do you pay commercial rent?
In 2006, I started my own small business and have taken immense pride in building it from the ground up to the industry leader that it is today. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy; I understand the challenges that our business community is up against.
We started our business in a shared office space, and eventually purchased a commercial space downtown. I have both paid and collected commercial rent, I understand the pressure as both a landlord and a tenant.
In your opinion, does Squamish have a parking problem? If so, what will you do about it?
Yes. There is a huge parking problem in Squamish. The community has shared with me that despite voicing their outrage they have been dismissed and repeatedly told that no problem exists.
If elected, I would explore an option to build a multi-use parkade facility on district owned land downtown. The building would be large enough to build a new municipal hall in partnership with the school board and have public parking stalls. This multi-use parkade can resolve 3 issues in our community. First, it will solve the parking issues downtown. Secondly, we will no longer have to lease a new municipal hall and can own the asset. Three, it also provides a solution for the school board.
We can design the multi-use parkade with a less car-reliant future in mind, where the building design considers features meant to allow for a smoother adaptation into alternative use.
I would also ensure there are no more parking variances for developers.
What ways would you support council addressing the climate crisis?
Climate change should be at the forefront of all decision making. We have a responsibility to preserve the environment for generations to come. Meeting these challenges involves creativity, community, education, conversations, and policy advocacy.
If elected I will introduce Smart Development guidelines that will ensure that any new developments that occur are connected to active transportation, schools, childcare, sufficient road networks with a district wide ride and traffic plan. Developers will be challenged and tasked with producing plans that focus on energy efficiency and low carbon energy sources to achieve net zero communities.
I am not in favor of rezoning existing green space and will advocate for preservation of our natural resources.
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’ve spoken to a lot of residents in our community and what I hear repeatedly is that the municipality, Mayor and Council are not transparent and have failed to listen to the people of this town. Not being seen or heard has created a division and a level of frustration, distrust, and anger.
The last council failed by continuing to develop and without investing in much needed infrastructure upgrades to keep up with the growth. Four years ago, the community was demanding that development be slowed.
Initiative, vision, and management has been lacking. We are now in a state of emergency with respect to the health and safety of people residing in the downtown core. Our schools, hospitals, sports amenities, daycares, roadways, parking, trails, and public structures are inadequate to accommodate the growth we have experienced.