The District of Squamish officially acquires 71 acres of waterfront land this Tuesday (Jan. 27) - and the land has been declared clean and ready to build on.
Local MLA Ted Nebbeling and Joyce Murray, Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection, toured the former chemical plant site with Squamish Mayor Ian Sutherland Thursday (Jan. 22), where Murray and Nebbeling presented Randy Gossen of Nexen with a special environmental award in recognition of the work Nexen did to rehabilitate the lands.
"Nexen set a new standard of excellence in cleanup of this site and it is with considerable pleasure that we present this special environmental award," Murray said. "Last November, as a result of the $1 billion BC Rail Investment Partnership, the province approved an agreement-in-principle with the District of Squamish and Nexen to transfer 71 acres of the cleaned-up site to the district. Nexen's completed cleanup is a critical step enabling the district to revitalize its downtown core and create opportunities for jobs and redevelopment."
In accepting the award on behalf of Nexen, Gossen said the site was clean and ready for mixed uses, including for residential purposes.
"It's a clean slate," Sutherland said at the award ceremony. "We can do whatever we want with that land. We have a chance to be the showcase of Canada."
The mayor announced that the beach located on the site is going to be named Nexen Beach.
A special meeting will be held on Tuesday (Jan. 27) at 4 p.m. to finalize the transfer of the former chemical plant lands to the DOS.
Meanwhile, the Squamish Waterfront Development Corporation (SWDC) is taking shape.
A lawyer is in the process of creating the official entity, a fully owned subsidiary of the District of Squamish (DOS).
Council resolutions on Tuesday (Jan. 20) and on Jan. 6 directed lawyer Michael Quattrocchi to create the corporation.
On Tuesday, council passed a motion that sets Municipal Hall as the place where the corporation's records and documents will be stored in accordance with the Company Act.
Council passed a motion allowing the next steps in the creation of the corporation to take place. Coun. Corinne Lonsdale was alone in voting against the motion. She said, as she did on Jan. 6, that she could not support the initiative because there is a lack of information on what council is doing in creating the new corporation.
"I cannot support the motion," she said. "There are no staff reports, there is no information."
Once the SWDC is established and the DOS takes possession of the former Nexen lands, a 13-person board of directors will be put in charge of the corporation.
Mayor Ian Sutherland named 12 of the directors who will steer the waterfront corporation. The directors will serve for different lengths of time.
Appointed to one-year terms are Linda Thorstad, Dave Boulter, Grant McRadu and Melahnie Moodie.
Thorstad is the Executive Director of the Vancouver Economic Development Commission and a leader in the province's business community. Boulter is a VP with Nexen, McRadu was the DOS administrator before Kim Anema and Melahnie Moodie is a young resident who Sutherland said has spent most of her life living in Squamish.
Two-year appointments are being recommended for Bob Fast, John Turner, Brent Leigh and Gord Prescott.
Fast is a longtime Squamish resident and the owner of Coast Aggregates. Turner is the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District representative for Area D and a resident of Furry Creek. Leigh is Squamish's former Economic Development Officer and a resident of Black Tusk Village. Prescott is the president of the Squamish Chamber of Commerce.
The four people who were asked to serve three-year terms are Chief Gibby Jacob, Larry Murray, Rob MacLeod and Julie Atkinson-Beckett.
Jacob is the Squamish Nation Chief. Murray moved to Squamish a year and a half ago. His background is in education administration and he said he is trying to retire. He was involved in a major waterfront development in Ontario. Murray is a supporter of educational tourism initiatives. MacLeod is an accountant at G. Stewart Kerr Ltd. Atkinson-Beckett is an event co-ordinator who is currently doing consulting work for Sea to Sky Ford.
One more name will be added to the list of recommended directors. The chair of the board will be named at a later date.
Sutherland said the directors will not be paid.
"The corporation has the option of reconsidering that later on," the mayor added.
After the names were listed at the council meeting, Coun. Lonsdale said she is concerned that some of council's powers and authorities are being turned over to a private organization.
"The 12 names you provided for us are all fine and capable people," she said to Sutherland. "If I appoint people to a board I want to know what the terms of reference are."