Barring any last-minute glitches, Squamish is now able to start taking real steps toward developing the former chemical plant lands at the foot of Galbraith Avenue.
According to a report to Council from Kim Anema, the District of Squamish chief administrative officer, the intended date for transfer of ownership of the lands is today (Oct. 29).
The members of Squamish Council were provided with three reports on Tuesday (Oct. 26) that will help guide future construction on the site. Because some mercury still sits below the ground there will be excavation and soil management protocols for the site along with a mercury-contaminated sediment management plan and a remediation-monitoring program.
Coun. Corinne Lonsdale was the lone councillor to vote against approval of two covenants attached to the lands as part of the legal transfer of ownership.
"I don't have a degree and you need one to understand this package," Lonsdale said of the information that was given to the members of council. "I think all of the site is clean on the surface to residential standards. For the most part it is clean to half a metre."
Lonsdale wanted to know if any the district will have to take on any further remediation of the lands.
Brent Leigh, the district's deputy administrator, said he had same question as Lonsdale but noted that the requirements are site specific for each individual lot on the site. There are numerous separate lots on the lands.
Mick Gottardi, the district's director of community development, said there won't be any need for further remediation in the areas where the contamination exists deep below the surface.
The excavation and soil management protocol and the contaminated sediment management plan are tools to keep the mercury below the surface where it won't cause harm to people, animals and plant life.
Lonsdale noted in an interview after the council meeting that the District of Squamish is solely liable if contaminants from the lands reach the surface and create a problem.
Former council member Lyle Fenton told The Chief that if contaminants start moving and they come to the surface then the affected area will have to be pumped and treated. If that happens, it could cost the district a significant amount of money. When Fenton was on council he was tasked with keeping council informed of issues pertaining to the remediation of the chemical plant lands.In the meantime, there is a ship and a barge docked at the former Nexen lands and the presence of the vessels in Squamish means money for the District of Squamish.
St. John's Fishing Lodge is renting waterfront space for its 71.93-metre (236-foot) floating lodge called Queen of the Island. Next to the floating lodge is a smaller fuel storage barge. Both vessels are loaded down with the 5.18-metre (17-foot) aluminum skiffs and other fishing gear used by the anglers who stay aboard the lodge.
B.C. Ferries originally owned the ship. The features on board include 26 cabins, a nine hole putting green on the back deck, a hot tub on the bow, a TV video lounge, an exercise room and a reading area. There's also skeet shooting, a driving range and a gift shop on the ship.
During the fishing season, the ship docks near Bella Bella on the northern B.C. coast and moves around to the best north coast fishing locations.
Tom Bruusgaard, former Squamish harbour master, helped broker the deal that brought the ship and the barge to Squamish during the off-season.
He said the fishing lodge traditionally docks on the Fraser River near Fort Langley.
"It is more expensive to tow her up river," Bruusgaard said.
Bruusgaard feels that hosting the vessels is the start of something exciting for Squamish and the Waterfront Development Corp. He said other ship owners are interested in docking at Squamish and Bruusgaard noted that there is lots of room.