Ever look over at the dry log sort on the east side of the Mamquam Blind Channel and wonder what its story is?
Unless you work in the forest industry or grew up in Squamish, the stacked logs and activity may be a mystery.
Local historian Eric Andersen compiled a brief history of the Site B log sort.
Site B is 158 acres, including some portions that are underwater.
Previously, until 1940, the property was used by the Merrill and Ring Lumber Company, which utilized it as a log dump and sorting grounds.
Its name, Site B, comes from the Squamish Estuary Management Plan (SEMP), which was crafted following public concern over the continued industrialization of Squamish's waterfront.
As part of a 1999 SEMP Land Exchange Program, Site B was transferred from the provincial government to BC Rail.
In June 2000, as part of a BC Rail, Squamish Estuary, and Porteau Cove lands agreement between Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), BC Rail and the provincial government — and later approved by Nation membership — ownership interest in Site B was transferred to the Nation.
Three areas of Site B are under long-term lease to forest industry companies: Howe Sound Log Services Ltd., Squamish Mills Ltd./ Ministry of Forests and West-Barr Contracting Ltd.
Site B is subject to municipal zoning. It is designated Intensive Industrial in the current District of Squamish Official Community Plan.
In SEMP, District and Squamish-Lillooet Regional District policies, the lands are recognized as "unique, strategic lands designated for water-dependent industry and transportation uses," Andersen notes.
The log sort regularly handles wood from throughout the Sea to Sky Natural Resource District, elsewhere on the coast, and occasionally from the Lillooet Timber Supply Area and beyond.
Seven First Nations owning a large majority of timber rights within the Sea to Sky District are dependent on facilities at Site B, according to Andersen.
The future of the site
Andersen notes the unique characteristics of Site B that ensure its future and point to the possible expansion of uses.
Enhanced facilities at Site B for log handling and sorting are a possibility, he said.
"The southerly portion of the site can accommodate barge terminal facilities, bulk product load-out, sawmilling and other primary processing."
There is no other remaining waterfront site for this, he said, noting the risk of contamination means that Squamish Terminals would not be suitable for these uses, he said.
Site B of SEMP - Backgrounder Compiled by Eric Andersen.