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Open house lends ears to vision

A plethora of ideas circulated throughout the Create the Oceanfront open houseMonday (Oct. 27).

A plethora of ideas circulated throughout the Create the Oceanfront open houseMonday (Oct. 27). Suggestions ran from building an aquarium to windsport venue, but the most prevalent focus was ensuring employment opportunities on the Oceanfront Peninsula.About 70 local residents attended the event led by the District of Squamish at the Sea to Sky Hotel, to express opinions and hear results from brainstorming sessions over the last few months.The discussion repeatedly drifted toward job creation and HB Lanarc consultant Peter Whitelaw projected between 600 and 1,200 jobs will be created from the oceanfront developments."I think we will certainly be at the upper end of that range if planning goes according to plan," he said.Workshop participants pointed to marine-based, tourism and retail businesses as well as small/light industries that don't create a lot of noise and air emissions, said Whitelaw. "This is about Squamish, it's not about what we like to call outlet mall Squamish. This is something that's local, that's real. It has richness, it's well-balanced, it's small scale."Planning director Cameron Chalmers reminded residents that the open house is part of an ongoing discussion set on creating a master plan to be submitted to council next spring. "Employment is going to be critical to the success of this site and it's of critical importance to the community," he said, adding that it's clear people also want a sustainable, mixed-use oceanfront.The workshops showed that as much as people want employment opportunities on the waterfront, they feel it is important to balance the workplace with residential options. They also suggested the oceanfront should take advantage of both methods for attracting people to Squamish, said Whitelaw. "People wanted balance and they wanted to emphasize jobs within that balance. There was a recognition that if you get employers then you will get people who want to live in Squamish and work there. But equally, if you get houses and a great place that luxury draws businesses, so there's a really strong relationship."Coun. Greg Gardner encouraged local residents to think outside the standard categories when coming up with uses for the oceanfront lands. It very well might be that far out, unique idea that becomes the project's hallmark. "Dream big," he said, mentioning another's idea of building a world class aquarium. "II want to encourage all the crazy hair-brained schemes that have a 0.003 per cent chance of succeeding."The district is encouraging residents to review its Kitchen Table workbook, which explores the benefits and trade-offs related to the various development options. More feedback from the community will ensure a plan reflects the needs of the community.The workbook is available at Municipal Hall, the Squamish Public Library and

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