The Select Committee on Outdoor Recreation made a bold move this week.
The committee decided at its regular meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 13) to recommend that council create a new position and hire someone to spearhead local outdoor recreation issues.
Committee member Jim Harvey of the Squamish Trails Society initiated the idea of requesting the creation of the new position. In a memo to the select committee members he said outdoor recreation, for the most part, is ignored by local authorities.
"The volunteer societies that represent the outdoor recreation segment are in general under-funded and could do so much more to support their respective sectors," Harvey wrote in the memo. "I propose that the best use of District of Squamish (DOS) funds for the short term is for DOS to hire a full-time staff member to fill the new position of Outdoor Recreation Coordinator."
"We're the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada and I think the town deserves an outdoor recreation coordinator," Harvey said.
Members of the committee who expressed an opinion on the issue all spoke in favour but had reservations and questions about the concept.
"I like the idea but how do you justify it to the taxpayer when they ask how much its going to cost?" asked committee member Brad Buck. "If this was a part-time position you're setting someone up for failure."
"There is enough work for this person to hit the ground running," Harvey said.
He feels a municipal coordinator could seek funding for outdoor recreation projects, help create a Smoke Bluffs management plan and promote Squamish's outdoor recreation offerings.
After some more discussion, the committee members decided to formalize their recommendation. With help from Sharon Birch, the recording secretary at the meeting, a written recommendation was drafted and voted on.
The committee voted unanimously to send the recommendation to council.
Mayor and council are currently working through the early stages of setting the 2004 budget. Council is expected to consider this funding proposal along with proposals from the other select committees and the staff as the budget process continues through to mid-May.