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Highway agreement brings Wal-Mart, Home Depot closer


Wal-Mart, Home Depot and a trail paralleling Highway 99 are closer to reality thanks to a key agreement struck earlier this summer.

The District of Squamish (DOS) and the Ministry of Transportation (MOT) found a way to speed up the planning for the highway upgrades in front of the Squamish Business Park.

The MOT has the ultimate say in where a proposed new road from Highway 99 into the business park is going to be located. The provincial ministry also has final approval over the subdivision plan that is needed for the lots Wal-Mart, Home Depot and the proponents of a factory outlet mall want to purchase. The planned upgrades of the highway will influence where the proposed new road into the park is to be located.

The parcels within Lot 40 that the retail operators want to purchase still technically don't exist and as long as that is the case the purchase agreements between the DOS and the retailers can't be finalized.

Mayor Ian Sutherland said the DOS waited to begin the subdivision plan because the district wants to build the new roads and the sewer lines in the park only once.

"You don't want to put in a Wal-Mart and Home Depot with a road place and then have to move the road because of what Highways is doing," Sutherland said.

"The project is going forward but you don't want to put in roads and sewers to find out you need to move them a year later."According to Sutherland, Wal-Mart and Home Depot have approval to preload the sites they want to purchase.

"If they chose to they could actually start moving their projects forward right now by putting on pre-load and things like that," said Sutherland. "So far they have chosen not to do that."

If any of the site developers do chose to move ahead and for some reason the land deal isn't finalized, the DOS will compensate the company for the work put into the lot.

"Their projects are going forward," the mayor said.

Also moving forward is the proposed trail from one end of Squamish to the other paralleling Highway 99.

DOS Council approved a memorandum of understanding with the MOT that sets out how a trail will be funded and constructed.Bruce Goldsworthy, the DOS special projects manager, said cost of the construction of the trail would be evenly split between the DOS and the MOT. The MOT needs to purchase DOS land along the highway route.

Goldsworthy said the DOS is facing an estimated trail construction bill of $450,000 but much of that will come from the MOT through the land sale.

The deal between the DOS and the MOT indicates that once the trail is built, the DOS will be responsible for the upkeep of the trail.

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