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Business Park gateway scrapped


A proposed "gateway" development to the Squamish Business Park at Hwy. 99 and Industrial Way is and two plain buildings will go up on the site, according to the developers.

Ed Vernon and Ammi Tepper, the owners of Lot 93 at the northwest corner of the high-traffic intersection, plan to fill their two proposed buildings with a restaurant and what Vernon described as a lube and oil business. They can go ahead right away with their new plans because those two ventures fit the current zoning for the property.

The developers originally wanted to create an attractive gateway development with public washrooms, a dedicated trail, a Toronto Dominion bank branch with drive-through service, a Starbucks with drive-through service and other businesses.

District of Squamish (DOS) Council rejected the bank idea outright last year and Vernon said Starbucks backed out more recently. According to Vernon, Starbucks decided it was no longer interested in the location because a drive-through operation was ruled out for the site.

Mayor Ian Sutherland said conversations took place to make it possible to install a left-turn lane so westbound traffic on Industrial way could turn left into Lot 93.

"At the end of the day it didn't work out," said Sutherland. "There have been extensive conversations about the solutions. It wouldn't work from a safety point of view and it probably wouldn't be approved by the highways department."

The mayor described the property as a very challenging piece of land.

"No one has found a viable safe way other than a right in and right out from that property," Sutherland said of the access issues faced by the owners of the site.

"That was going to be their key store for the Olympics and the area," Vernon said of the plans Starbucks had for Lot 93.

Vernon said the DOS wanted a portion of Lot 93 for the widening of Industrial Way. Industrial Way becomes very busy at peak times even while Lot 93 sits vacant and there is concern over the additional traffic any vehicle oriented services will draw to the area with development of Lot 93.

"We can't afford to sit there so we are going to build a building where the Starbucks was going to go and it will be similar to Babuin's," Vernon said referring to the property to the north of Lot 93. A new highway fronting building was built on the Babuin property recently and Vernon plans to construct similar buildings on Lot 93. Vernon's original plans called for buildings with more attractive exteriors.

"We did everything we could to make this work," Vernon said. "We've been sitting and sitting. Here we are months and months later and we're still sitting."

"What I've encouraged both Ed and Ammi to do is look at the best interest of the community," said Sutherland. "They know clearly what we want on that piece of property and what we don't want. Given the fact that they both own land nearby and if they want to develop those properties in the future they will look at the bigger picture and do what is best for the community."

Vernon said further meetings with DOS staff are scheduled to discuss the plans for Lot 93.

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