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Float community clears hurdle

Public hearing on Sirocco set for Oct. 18
A mixed-use proposal, including float homes, has hit council’s table.

Do Squamish residents envision development, including a float home community, on the Mamquam Blind Channel? 

The public will have a chance to weigh in on the Sirocco project proposed for Loggers Lane at a public hearing set for Oct. 18. 

District of Squamish council passed second reading of rezoning for the development at its meeting Tuesday night.

The mixed-use proposal includes three six-storey buildings with 138 apartments, some commercial space and Squamish’s first float home community. The float home community would be made up of 27 700-square-foot, two-storey homes and four commercial floating units. 

An “enhanced public waterfront walkway” and two public floating docks are also proposed for along the waterfront dike that is part of the project, according to a report to council by district staff. 

The rezoning is from general industrial to comprehensive development. 

Rezoning was given first reading on Sept. 6. Since that reading, the developer, Michael Hutchison, addressed some concerns of council by changing some aspects of the project including increased parking for float homes from one parking space per home to 1.25 spaces per home. An on site car share is also being considered for Sirocco, Hutchison said. 

 His company and partners are also developing the oceanfront lands, downtown’s The Mireau project and proposing to develop at 750-unit housing development on the Cheekye Fan in Brackendale. 

A float home feasibility report will be finalized before the public hearing for Sirocco.

The developer is offering a community amenity contribution of about $1 million, with half going to public improvements and half going to the district’s affordable housing fund. 

Earlier Tuesday, Hutchison proposed instituting a “rent supplement program” as part of the community amenity contribution, rather than a cash contribution to the affordable housing fund.  


“No developer wants to be charged cash that goes out the door to pay for another developer to build something,” Hutchison told council at the afternoon committee meeting. 


The proposal included approximately 10 rental units in Sirocco offered at 25 per cent of market value for about 10 years. Under the plan, a market rent of  $2,000 would be reduced to $1,500, he said. 

The district could determine who would qualify for the rentals and those individuals could include people working in Squamish, low-income individuals or seniors, Hutchison said. 

Coun. Jason Blackman-Wulff, in particular, opposed the rental proposal, preferring instead a cash contribution that could go toward more long-term rental options for the district. 

“I think that we can do a lot better,” Blackman-Wulff said. “With a $600,000 cash contribution for this project, that will assist us to leverage funds that we currently have in the housing reserve, which by the end of the year should be nearly at the $1 million mark, and potentially higher.” 

That money can be leveraged through BC Housing financing for long-term housing, without ongoing subsidy, he added. “That is not available to the private sector.” Rents would be even more affordable under that plan, Blackman-Wulff said, than what Hutchison’s rental subsidy would provide. 

Mayor Patricia Heintzman said district representatives met with Minister of Housing Rich Coleman at the Union of B.C. Municipalities meetings in Victoria last week and he encouraged the district to apply for some of the province’s newly announced $500 million earmarked for affordable housing.

In the end, Hutchison dropped the rental scheme proposal before second reading was considered at the council meeting Tuesday night.

Only Coun. Karen Elliott opposed second reading on the grounds the community amenity contribution was not sufficient given the scope of the development.

Blackman-Wulff was absent from the meeting Tuesday night.

The public hearing for Sirocco is scheduled for Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. at Municipal Hall. 

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