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District of Squamish responds to recent attack ads

Squamish Voices has spent over $8,200 on Facebook attack ads and has leafleted town with flyers.

The District is responding to a flyer mailed out by an anonymous organization accusing the municipality of misspending taxpayer money.

The flyer, delivered throughout town by an entity called Squamish Voices, alleges the municipality paid too much money for new covered shelters.

In the last few months, three covered shelters were built downtown, totalling about $220,000.

In the flyer and in online social media posts, Squamish Voices has been critical of the spend, saying it was a significant mismanagement of public funds.

However, in response, the District said the money didn't come from property taxes, but rather by the B.C. COVID-19 Restart Grant.

This provincial money was provided to municipalities to pay for expenditures that were related to the COVID-19 recovery.

"We make every effort to provide our citizens with transparent and accessible information in an open and forthcoming manner, and we stand publicly accountable for our decisions rather than hiding behind an anonymous screen," said Mayor Karen Elliott in a news release.

"These statements are simply untrue and I hope that residents will take some time to seek out the full story and seriously question the cowardice and motive of this anonymous person or group."

The District said the higher cost is also in part due to a 40% rise in lumber prices during the COVID-19 period.

Finally, the municipality added that the $17,270 cost of a transit structure identified in the postcard does not include delivery, site preparation or concrete for the footings and floor.

A similar shelter in Squamish outside the library was listed as $17,270 by BC Transit, but came to $36,750 once all costs were factored in, though the District only pays 20% of this or $7,348 due to cost-sharing with BC Transit, the release said.

Squamish Voices emerged as a Facebook page earlier this year posing as a local community group, but it has released no information on who runs the group or its motivations.

Consistently, it has published attack ads against elected members of council, especially Mayor Karen Elliott.

According to data from Facebook alone, to date, the page has spent a total of $8,281 on social media advertising regarding social issues, elections or politics.

The page was created on March 30, and four people from Canada manage the site.

There are two phone numbers listed with the account on different ads it has posted. One is from Newton, Surrey, and the other is from Vancouver, according to Yellow pages. The Chief left messages with both numbers and has not received any response.

An address associated with Squamish Voices that Facebook says was submitted March 31, 2021, is listed as 36 King Street East 4th Floor, Toronto, Ontario M4E 2G9, CA.

The Chief has previously asked Facebook communications to identify the owner of Squamish Voices, but the company declined, citing privacy policies.

The corporate spokesperson also said that the site was not breaching any policies.


**Please note, there are two Squamish Voices on Facebook. One is anonymous and political, the other is Squamish Voices, a community forum, which predates the political page and is in no way affiliated with it.)

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