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John French is running for a second term as District of Squamish councillor

The born-and-raised local wants to restore a sense of community and allow development on the Cheema lands.
John FrenchElection 2022
John French.

A born-and-raised Squamish resident who's worked as a journalist, corporate community relations worker and courier, among other things, is running for office.

John French told The Squamish Chief on July 8 that he will be running to serve another term as councillor.

French has worked as a journalist for The Squamish Chief, Mountain FM and his writing has appeared in Pique Newsmagazine. He had a gig as a community relations manager with Woodfibre LNG and currently works for Whistler Courier. He said he has stayed away from community and government relations jobs to avoid conflicts of interest.

Two big pillars of his platform involve fostering a renewed sense of community in town and bringing the Cheema lands into the growth management boundary.

On the topic of community, French said he was interested in exploring population distribution in the municipality.

"One of the things that's been on my mind for a while is the potential population capacity for downtown," said French. "How many people is too many downtown? And I would like in the next term for council to work with planning staff and consultants to determine what's an ideal population number for downtown."

He said it's a question that would be answered with data and expertise from staff and consultants.

"For me, it's getting back to what this community was like when the population was 10,000 people and everybody knew their neighbours."

However, this is not to be confused with putting a hard cap on Squamish's population or development.

"That's not what I'm aiming to do," he said. "Because it's impossible. When a land owner chooses to redevelop their land, if they redevelop within the existing zoning, government has no role."

Regarding density, he said communication is key.

"I often hear people worried that they're going to have a multi-floor apartment building right next to their single-family home," said French. "That's not necessarily a justified fear, because that rarely happens. And for it to happen, there would have to be a lot of discussion, dialogue and consultation with the community."

Aside from population distribution, French also said certain activities can foster a sense of community.

He said that focusing on park improvements, trail improvements, and trail development will help foster a sense of community.

Another major part of his platform is extending the growth management boundary to include District lots 509 and 510, commonly known as the Cheema lands.

For some time, developer Bob Cheema has been denied permission to build a proposed residential development on his property, as it lies outside the municipality's growth management boundary.

However, French said that it would be best to allow Cheema to start the process of developing his lands now.

"You just need to look at Redbridge. The oceanfront lands. The old Interfor site. All of those projects, when they [were] initially proposed, were five-year projects. And 25 years later, we're just breaking ground," he said.

"I see that Cheema lands having that same scenario where if we bring it into the growth management boundary now, [development will start] way down the horizon…I'd rather see us start into the planning of the Cheema lands now, so that when we need it, we at least have gotten started."

The local government election is on Oct. 15.


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