A controversial proposed new bylaw that has been a high priority of District of Squamish (DOS) Council is coming under tight public scrutiny and DOS staff wants to hire a public relations company to help present the bylaw.
The comprehensive environmental protection bylaw was discussed at a special meeting of Council on Tuesday ( July 12).
Environmental coordinator Chessy Langford asked council to approve spending $24,410 to hire the Sheltair group to lead a public consultation process explaining the proposed bylaw.
Langford said the bylaw is politically sensitive and she pointed out members of DOS staff don't have the specialized skills required to effectively handle the public consultation required before the bylaw is considered by Council for final approval.
Coun. Corinne Lonsdale said the amount of money to be spent was a concern.
"I don't recall spending that much money on preparing a bylaw in the past," she said.
Mick Gottardi, the DOS director of community development, said the bylaw is the most politically sensitive ever proposed in Squamish.
"One of our priorities was this bylaw and to have it by the end of our mandate," said Mayor Ian Sutherland.Even with a very tight timeline, the bylaw is not expected to be adopted by the current council. The proposed timeline indicates council will give consideration to the first three readings on Oct. 18 at the earliest. The current council mandate runs out in November and before the bylaw can be adopted it needs provincial approval.
Sutherland said very few people in the community know the bylaw.
"We need to give them the information," Sutherland said.
To address the concerns of Lonsdale and Kahlon, Sutherland suggested staff be directed to use up to $20,000. Langford said she would look at tasks Sheltair was supposed to do and find ways for some of the tasks to be taken over by DOS staff so the Sheltair bill could be reduced.
The comprehensive environmental bylaw deals with tree cutting, soil removal and other issues relating to land development and redevelopment.
The full text of the bylaw is posted on the DOS website (www.squamish.ca).