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Prior, Fitschen join council race

SODC director, environmental advocate to challenge on Gardner, McLennan, Patterson Sylvie Paillard spaillard@squamishchief.

SODC director, environmental advocate to challenge on Gardner, McLennan, Patterson

Sylvie Paillard

Two more community members have announced their intention to run for the available municipal council seat during the June 24 byelection.

Ted Prior and Spencer Fitschen both oppose municipal candidate Greg Gardner in saying they have a desire to see oceanfront development continue on the course it is presently going.

"They [the SODC board] are throwing out a bunch of ideas right now," said Fitschen, who is well known as an environmental advocate and helped found the Sea to Sky chapter of the Sierra Club in 2002. "Some are excellent ideas, some the community's probably going to want to massage a little bit. It is a tremendous amenity for Squamish. The community will come together and have their input during the master planning process. I'm pretty sure that'll happen."

Prior, a downtown-area property developer for more than a decade and trails advocate, said he will step down as a Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation (SODC) board member to run for the council seat left available when Coun. Ray Peters died March 30.

"I've been a waterfront advocate for 15 years," said Prior. "I'll be there to stand up for what's being done by the SODC and the community through the charette and the Smart Growth process."

Prior has extensive involvement in the community. He was a member of the Squamish Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for eight years and of the Senior Citizen's Society for four years. He's involved in the Squamish Estuary Review Committee and is also the past president of the Squamish Trails Society where he worked alongside Peters. Prior was also a member of the District Design Panel for four years and sat on two different District Economic Development Committees.

Prior said he decided to run in part after hearing rumours of heavy industry coming to the waterfront.

"We've worked so hard for so many years," he said. "I didn't want sleepless nights thinking we're moving backwards."

Prior has other issues he intends to tackle if elected, including pressuring the Ministry of Transportation to enhance the plan for the highway expansion to maximize Squamish's benefits. He also wants to see Squamish make the best of the 2010 Olympics.

Although well known as an environmentalist, Fitschen said his focus will be to encourage a balanced approach to Squamish's issues.

"The environment is something I have a strong interest in, but it meshes with absolutely everything that goes on; the highway development, the oceanfront development," he said. "You can't take just one viewpoint and say 'protect the environment and don't build any more houses.' Well that's just plain stupid. Houses and growth is all going to take place."

He said wants to bring a sense of balance to the local council all working together to tackle sustainable business practices, environmental awareness and social well-being.

Since Fitschen is in a relationship with district environmental coordinator Chessy Knight, he said he investigated what potential conflicts may arise and local councillors assured him none need exist.

"It just so happens we share many, many common viewpoints, that's what brought us together," he said. "I'm not promoting anything new. It's certainly not the first time something like this has happened."

District staff did not confirm who had officially filed nomination papers by Chief press time Thursday afternoon. Nominations close today (Friday, May 19) at 4 p.m.

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