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Outdoor rec forum tests candidates

Jane Emerick Outdoor recreation was the topic for council hopefuls at the SORCA-sponsored all-candidates forum at the Squamish Adventure Centre on Monday June 19.

Jane Emerick

Outdoor recreation was the topic for council hopefuls at the SORCA-sponsored all-candidates forum at the Squamish Adventure Centre on Monday June 19.

Don Petrocco, vice-president of the Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association (SORCA), Jean Michel Tremblay, director of the Squamish Wind Sport Society, Tyrone Brett president of the Squamish Access Society, Bob Brant president of Squamish Trail Society and Stuart Smith of the Whitewater Kayaking Association of British Columbia asked the seven candidates about their ideas on outdoor recreation in Squamish.

SORCA president Cliff Miller moderated the evening and gave the opening remarks.

"We need to look forward without forgetting our past," said Miller. "We are here because of the passing of Ray Peters. Ray was a passionate supporter of outdoor recreation. One of these candidates is going to be elected and they have some pretty big shoes to fill."

Candidates were asked to state what the term "Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada" meant to them.

David Clarkson said the phrase was indicative of what Squamish should be.

"Capital is where you focus your attention and as far as the outdoor capital, I would like to see the best possible outdoor recreation in Canada occur in Squamish," he said.

Larry McLennan said the key for Squamish is "is changing the slogan into reality." He said outdoor recreation in Squamish needed additional promotion and could be done so by utilizing technology. He said a Squamish website would attract more people to the town, providing economic benefits.

Greg Gardner said the phrase does a good job of "representing our community's character."

"I like it because it encompasses a wide range of things. It works for our town for obvious reasons because we have so much to offer. We hosted the woman's championship in golf we had the world championships in windsurfing a couple years ago and we have some of the best [mountain biking] trails in the world right here in Squamish."

Similarly, Spencer Fitschen said: "I don't think we have any reason to not call ourselves the outdoor recreation capital of Canada."

Randy Lewis said the phrase raises concern for the environment and Ted Prior thought the slogan represented the opportunity for funding from the federal and provincial governments.

Terrill Patterson dismissed the slogan: "It means nothing."

The candidates were also asked how they would propose to create jobs once the current economic boom had passed. Although the question did not mention outdoor recreation many of the candidates referred to it in their responses.

Lewis discussed the worked the First Nations have been doing to develop "greenhouse technologies here on our territories" as well as looking to the local college and future university "to find the best solutions for our children."

Gardner said the lifestyle Squamish offers is something that will attract people in high-tech industries to Squamish, and added that tourism, the film industry and the "fantastic opportunity" of Quest University and Capilano College would bring "quality" jobs.

McLennan stressed the importance of making it affordable for industries to come here.

"There needs to be some financial management at the municipal level so that we will have a sustainable tax base, but not one that is going to drive business away," he said.

Patterson argued there wouldn't be any jobs in the future, while Clarkson said things like solid infrastructure, public transit and affordable housing would keep people in Squamish, and would sustain employment.

Prior said the influx of new education programs was the biggest thing coming to Squamish and he would like to see the development of more apprenticeship to take advantage of the companies developing the town.

Fitschen stressed the importance of preserving some of Squamish's waterfront land.

"We should set a side land in Squamish, rather than developing everything right now. In Vancouver they have run out of waterfront land for industry and they are not happy about it... they can't go back," he said.

Focusing on the outdoor recreation resolution facing Squamish the candidates were asked what they saw as the biggest, Squamish-based recreational issues.

Gardner saw the development of the valley trail network, Independent Power Sources (IPP's) as well as "taking advantage of the recreation opportunities we have here" while encouraging tourism opportunities.

Fitschen saw the top three issues as, "access, user conflict and maintaining environmental integrity." He said solving them would involve entire community.

"To resolve issues it can't be three people sitting around the table it has to be everybody," he said.

Clarkson would like to see a trail network developed including the development of "motion activated lights."

Lewis, too, stressed development while protecting the wildlife, and Ted Prior identified funding and "volunteer burnout" as important issues, as well as the need for a trail network.

McLennan said "building amenities that will support our current population" was necessary to sustain Squamish's outdoor recreation. Patterson said the main outdoor recreation issue in Squamish was "dealing with the current council", something he'd change if elected.

Voting for the upcoming byelection will take place on Saturday June 24 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Brennan Park Recreation Centre.

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