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Proposed equestrian community moves ahead

A proposed residential community centred around horseback riding is moving forward despite firm warnings from staff it would suburbanize Paradise Valley and put residents at risk.

A proposed residential community centred around horseback riding is moving forward despite firm warnings from staff it would suburbanize Paradise Valley and put residents at risk.On Tuesday (April 22) council looked at the 82-home project designed to take up 112 acres of district land along Paradise Valley Road and the Cheakamus River. The homes would be built on parcels ranging from half an acre to two acres in size. The residential area would surround an equestrian facility with a tack shop, veterinary clinic, café, stables, along with indoor and outdoor arenas.Proponents described the project as a sustainable development integrated into the landscape with houses covering less than six per cent of the property.But staff planner Chris Bishop said the development would contradict Smart Growth principles, while also leaving resident vulnerable to floods, fire and entrapment at the end of a one-way-in, one-way-out road.He recommended the project not go any further."Our growth management strategy encourages development where development has already occurred," he said.Chief Administrative Office Kim Anema reinforced this point, saying the project went against policy in the old and new Official Community Plan (OCP) and the Squamish Lillooet Regional District's (SLRD) Regional Growth Strategy."All of those documents say the same thing. There's a theme about rural containment," he said, noting he doubted the SLRD would approve the project.Heintzman said she was shocked by the staff report."I've never seen a staff report that so vehemently opposed something for so many reasons," she said. Heintzman objected to the proposal mainly due to hazard issues, and said she thought the project was aimed at West Vancouver residents."I don't think the target audience for this project is the local equestrian community," she said. "There might be two or three entities that have horses."Coun. Greg Gardner said he was also surprised by the report and urged staff to wait a month before deciding to halt or proceed with the proposal."I think we shouldn't rush into this. I think we should pause and have some dialogue with staff," he said.But Coun. Corinne Lonsdale was not interested in holding up the decision, noting the proposal has been with the district for two years. She questioned the value of staff's report, saying many of the same concerns could be raised for the proposed rehabilitation centre along the same road."I obviously have never seen such a report that has said so many things against something in my life," she said. "It blows me awaysometimes, you know, we get mixed messages from staff and sometimes it's really hard to deal with them."She said the equestrian community would be a good use for the land, adding she feels very strongly about it.Seven people spoke to council on behalf of the project, including Carolyn Lair, who said she consulted personally with community members in the area to ensure the project fit in with the rural area and offered amenities to residents such as the beginning of a Paradise Valley volunteer fire department. She said the project was an improvement over former plans to turn the site into a golf community."All our ideas that came forward actually came here from people in the community," she said.Staff was also given a letter showing Squamish Nation support for the development.Council moved to take the project to first and second reading, which will bring the project before a public hearing. Gardner and Heintzman opposed the motion.

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