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Affordability, industrial projects top of mind at Squamish Mayor’s Luncheon

Mayor Armand Hurford spoke to affordable living, industrial projects and public transit at the annual event on May 8.

Affordability and major industrial projects were top of mind at the annual Mayor’s Luncheon.

On Wednesday, May 8, Mayor Armand Hurford addressed a crowd of about 75 community business members at the annual event held by the Squamish Chamber of Commerce. Hurford spoke to council’s strategic plan, which covered the four main pillars: connected and livable community, resilient people and relationships, reliable service delivery, and prepared for the future.

Hurford kicked off his speech by talking about provincial housing legislation and funding for such legislation, mentioning the $7 million in funding secured by the District from the federal government. From there, he spoke to reconciliation actions the District is engaging in with Squamish Nation, including the ongoing development of a memorandum of understanding between the two, and the start of improvements at Brennan Park Recreation Centre among other infrastructure improvements.

“We're also committed … to improve affordability in our community, including attainable housing, child care, and transit,” he said.

After the speech, Hurford took on questions submitted by the group, which centred on the Woodfibre LNG (WLNG) and Fortis BC projects, affordable living, public transit and more.

One of the first questions Hurford answered was about the District’s plan for affordable housing. Hurford said one way they’re taking action is by “getting out of the way” by zoning the community to be able to quickly create affordable housing. Another method he mentioned was using the assets that they have to add housing, giving the example of potentially adding housing above Firehall No. 2.

“We’re leaving no stone unturned to find ways to incentivize affordable housing,” he said.

There were several questions from the group about the Woodfibre LNG and FortisBC projects, many of which had to do with how the companies are utilizing local procurement. Hurford reiterated it is a requirement by the environmental assessment to utilize local businesses where the companies can and that the District is in “constant communication” with regulators that oversee the projects.

Another question to the mayor about the WLNG project asked plainly if the District or council had ever suggested that the company not utilize local businesses, to which Hurford simply replied, “No.”

Near the end, Hurford was asked how the community could move the dial on public transit. He said the District continued to advocate for in-town transit and also used the opportunity to mention the provincial responsibility for regional transit while two candidates in the upcoming provincial election, Jen Ford and Jeremy Valeriote, were in the crowd.

“Particularly through this stretch of a lot of election time, we need a willing partner at the province to help us find a way through this,” he said.

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