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Local buys first SSU lots

The first homes in Squamish's new university neighbourhood should be under construction some time after April of next year. The leaders of the not-for-profit Sea to Sky University (SSU) signed a deal with First Cambridge Capital Inc.

The first homes in Squamish's new university neighbourhood should be under construction some time after April of next year.

The leaders of the not-for-profit Sea to Sky University (SSU) signed a deal with First Cambridge Capital Inc. (FCCI) of Squamish Tuesday (June 22) morning. Douglas Day, the president of FCCI, bought a 19 hectare (47 acre) parcel of land from SSU after his development proposal was accepted over 41 other submissions from developers.

"As of 3:08 this morning, we have a deal and we're moving ahead," said Dr. David Strangway of the SSU.

SSU project leader Peter Ufford called Day's offer "straight and clean."

"This land sale represents yet another meaningful milestone during the $150-million first phase of our SSU project," Strangway said. "First, the sale proceeds will flow directly into our campus construction budget in accordance with the SSU Business Plan. Secondly, we are extremely pleased that the successful proponent of our RFP [request for proposals] Process, which attracted the interest of a significant number of major developers, is a well-established and highly-regarded local firm."

Day's company made its initial move into Squamish when the firm bought all the available lots at Raven's Plateau. Day is currently developing homes in the subdivision at the top of Westway Avenue in Valleycliffe.

With this announcement, Day will now be working to build 200 housing units on the 19 hectares to the south east of the new Mashiter Creek Bridge.

"I am very pleased that my firm will have the honour of designing, building and marketing SSU's first phase of market housing," Day said through a SSU news release. "Should everything proceed as scheduled, and to provide timely, quality homes in Squamish, I anticipate that First Cambridge Capital will invite reservations for its lots and homes in the next few months; commence closings by April of 2005, and undertake construction of the first 50 to 60 homes shortly thereafter."

Day said the property will include 150 single family homes and possibly 50 townhouses.

Each of the homes will include energy-efficient features like ground-source geothermal heating and cooling.

A number of things have to happen before construction of the homes can begin. The District of Squamish (DOS) has to approve a sub-division plan for the 47-acres, the bridge has to be completed, the main access road to the university has to be completed and all the services have to be installed.

Along with those things, official community plan and zoning amendments are needed, a development variance permit is required and a development cost charges bylaw exemption needs to be put in place.

By the end of 2004, University Boulevard is expected to be completed. The boulevard will go from the new bridge to the Garibaldi Park Road.

According to Terry Partington, SSU's Director of Real Estate Development, the $3.25 million Mashiter Creek Bridge is scheduled to be completed late in October. The bridge will connect the SSU lands to the Garibaldi Highlands and offer the first direct and legal road access to the SSU lands.

Partington added that the university will commence both on- and off-site services for the project this summer, with completion expected by the end of this year.

The FCCI announcement was made at a special council meeting. Mayor Ian Sutherland, on behalf of Council, said the SSU land sales agreement with First Cambridge Capital Inc. was "very welcome news".

The meeting was originally scheduled as an opportunity for council and the university leaders to discuss the SSU concerns with council's decision to consider giving the owners of three significant parcels of land (district lots 509, 510 and 513) an opportunity to start the process of rezoning the lands so they can be turned into neighbourhoods.

The leaders of the university project are worried that if a flood of new properties become available before or as the market housing portion of the university lands are being marketed then the SSU business plan will be severely affected. The not-for-profit university intends to get a third of the funding it needs to build the higher education centre from the sale of market housing lands around the campus.

Sutherland said that recent discussions make him confident that an acceptable solution can be found and details of that solution will be announced in a few weeks.

"The matter is being solved in a collaborative approach," Sutherland said.

Ufford said he is confident an acceptable solution is being worked out and according to the mayor, Merrill and Ring (the owners of two large district lots) is comfortable.

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