The District of Squamish is utilizing an alternative approval process for four bylaws, each related to borrowing for local projects.
At a regular council meeting on Sept. 5, Squamish council members unanimously voted to use the alternative approval process for loan authorization for upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant, upgrades to the Jimmy Jimmy (Judd) Slough, construction of a main road to Oceanfront lands, and continued construction of Fire Hall No. 2. Coun. Eric Andersen was absent from the meeting.
Melissa von Bloedau, manager of legislative services for the District, explained that these four bylaws have received approval for all three readings and approval from the inspector of municipalities.
“In order for the bylaws to be adopted, elector approval must be received,” she said, which can be done through assent voting or the alternative approval process.
“Assent voting requires the majority of electors to vote in favour of the borrowing prior to the bylaws being considered for adoption,” she explained. “The alternative approval process requires electors to submit a response form directly to the district if they are in opposition to the proposed borrowing.”
If less than 10% of the electorate opposes the bylaw, or 1,809 people, then the bylaw may be considered for adoption. If greater than 10%, then the District will proceed to assent voting.
With the process enacted, the deadline to submit opposition is Oct. 23 at 4:30 p.m. and can be done on the District’s website or in person at municipal hall.
Council members heard some new additions to the communications to residents about the alternative approval process, stemming from the experiences of when the public works facility received over 10% opposition in 2022, which went through the process a second time and passed after a larger information campaign coming from the District.
On top of notices in the Sept. 14 and 21 print editions of The Squamish Chief, the information is also being widely shared on the District’s e-news and social media. They’ve also included more thorough information pages about each of the projects and costs on the District’s website. Finally, they plan to respond publicly if questions arise during the process.
“We recognize that there is more that we can do to ensure transparency and access to information,” said a District staff member to council.
According to the District’s website, the wastewater treatment plant upgrade includes “increase treatment capacity, provide system redundancy, increase seismic and flood resiliency, improve plant performance and effluent quality, decrease biosolids production and associated energy usage, and decrease carbon emissions and handling costs.”
The Jimmy Jimmy (Judd) slough upgrade will see nearly one kilometre of the dike raised and widened, add erosion protection and a new vehicle turnout, plus upgrades to an access ramp.
The road to the Oceanfront lands will begin by raising the road and providing an interim paved surface for vehicles and active transportation, which will be upgraded in the future as the parcels of land nearby the road develop.
The Fire Hall No. 2 project will see a complete rebuild of the building with administration office areas, dorm rooms, a training room, kitchen and decontamination rooms for post-incident cleanup among other things.
The borrowing for each project and its impact on taxpayers are listed in the table below.
|Wastewater Treatment Plant Upsize Future Growth
|$5 per residential property utility account per year
|Jimmy Jimmy (Judd) Slough
|$0.68 for residents and $1.70 for businesses (per $100,000 of assessed property value)
|R20 Peninsula Main Arterial (road to Oceanfront)
|$0.61 for residents and $1.53 for businesses (per $100,000 of assessed property value)
|New Fire Hall No. 2
|$1.94 for residents and $4.86 for businesses (per $100,000 of assessed property value)
Note: A previous version of this story described the Fire Hall No. 2 project in a way that could have been misinterpreted. It has been since been updated.