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Local jobs to fight climate change

Mayor Gardner contributes to green discussion

Squamish must become a "complete community" in order to contribute to the global fight against climate change, Mayor Greg Gardner told more than 50 audience members at the Adventure Centre for Ana Santos's fourth instalment of We Are All in the Melting Pot climate change movie series on Monday (Feb. 23).

During a question and answer period after the showing of a film documenting successful public transit initiatives in Bogatá, Columbia, Gardner was asked what the biggest thing Squamish can do to become a more efficient community.

"In Squamish we rely on vehicles a lot and I don't think any of us are prepared to completely walk away from automobiles but if we can get them driving shorter to work and those types of things it would be a great first step," he replied.

"My vision for Squamish is a complete community - that we're not just a bedroom community - with everything here including jobs."

District of Squamish planning director Cameron Chalmers took the floor after the second documentary, which featured Harlem, New York's methods for creating better affordable housing. He announced that the minimum employment target for the future downtown oceanfront development is 800 jobs.

Chalmers stressed the importance of creating locations in the community that attract people.

"Good cities are about people," he said, adding that issues like population density and transportation are all intertwined. Although Squamish is sprawled out and divided into neighbourhoods, each location can focus on creating important centres that attract residents.

"There's richness in each of those little neighbourhoods so some of the things that we think about with the downtown applies to, say, Brackendale."

Resident Larry Murray expressed concern over Squamish's sprawling urban areas to Gardner. The mayor assured him that densification principles are considered with all development proposals because they are both environmentally and economically sound. For example, greater density means fewer roads ploughed and less water piping required.

"Having compact communities is far more sustainable from a municipal fiscal point of view," he said.

Santos told Gardner and Chalmers she was grateful they attended the event to help residents better understand how the global issue translates locally.

"It's very important to keep in mind that we're not the only ones struggling with this," she said. "The whole world is stumbling towards a sustainable future. Stumbling is a good thing - it means we're moving."

This week's film, entitled Big Ideas for a Small Planet, focuses on green home construction practices. Entry is free of charge and the show starts at 7 p.m. at the Adventure Centre on Monday (March 2).