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Locals share ideas for downtown

"We don't want to be just an 'anytown' in a great setting." "We are lucky to have the biggest backyard in the world!" "We could work together to incorporate new affordable housing concepts downtown.

"We don't want to be just an 'anytown' in a great setting."

"We are lucky to have the biggest backyard in the world!"

"We could work together to incorporate new affordable housing concepts downtown."

These comments were among the many made by participants in the first of five neighbourhood forums, held for downtown residents and sponsored by the Squamish Social Planning Council in December, 2007.

Every forum was organized and promoted in collaboration with local community groups, and while the two-year process was time-consuming and long, the result was an event and group discussions that were appropriate to each neighbourhood, their residents and their issues.

Those concerned with downtown Squamish met at the United Church to share food and ideas in lively discussions facilitated by Squamish resident Catherine Rockandel.

The purpose was to provide an opportunity for local residents to have their say about what they value, what they feel is at risk, and what they, as individuals and together, can do to address the challenges confronting their neighbourhoods and town in this time of rapid change.

Forum participants listed as their priorities: connection to place, community relationships, accessibility, celebrating diversity, and connection to nature as things they value about Downtown Squamish.

They were concerned about the loss of the small town feel, historical roots, and community identity as Squamish grows and changes. They also expressed concern over security and safety, a desire for environmentally and socially sensitive growth, the need to find a balance between wild and public green spaces, the importance of being an inclusive community with affordable housing for all, and a sense of loss of citizen input regarding how Squamish will change and develop in the future.

Forum attendees discussed what they could do to address some of the concerns they identified.

Ideas included designating parks, planting trees, and incorporating wildlife corridors to preserve and protect greenspace. People also mentioned taking action to create more affordable housing opportunities, working together to clean up the community and to create a more secure downtown and fostering greater collaboration among community organizations and encouraging citizen involvement in local issues.

And they wished to ensure the economic viability of Squamish by attracting industries to provide jobs and creating other economic opportunities by supporting small businesses, artists, and local entrepreneurs.

The results from all five forums will be written up for presentation to district council along with recommendations for specific actions local government can take to address key issues identified by forum participants.

Anyone interested in reading the summarized results from the forums can go to the Social Planning Council website at, click on library, and community forum results.

The Social Planning Council will also be producing a summary report of the forum results in booklet form for use by residents and non-profit groups.

For more information on the Social Planning Council and its work, or if you are interested in becoming a member, please visit its website or call 604-815-2158.