Note: A previous version of this story said there was another public hearing on Oct. 3. On Sept. 29, the District of Squamish announced the Oct. 3 public hearing was cancelled to consider new information. No new date has been announced yet.
A suite of 11 bylaws updates were granted a third reading by Squamish council members, paving the way for their adoption at a future council meeting.
The District of Squamish held public hearings on Sept. 12 in council chambers for the 11 bylaws. After hearing from the public, all 11 were granted third and final reading, nine of which were passed unanimously and the remaining two by a 6-1 vote.
The first bylaw update that had some opposition centred on a currently empty parcel of land on 39773 and 39775 Government Rd. The bylaw update is meant to incentivize affordable rental housing and market rental housing on the land, if the owner decides to redevelop.
Garry McKay, senior vice president of the landowner Imagining Communities Together Group, told council that the update would make it “not viable from a financial perspective and development will not occur” without other density amendments and flexibility.
Previously by a narrow 4-3 vote, council opted to make this parcel have 15% affordable rental housing and 10% market rental housing. Before that amendment passed, it was 10% for both housing categories.
Despite the reasoning levied by the landowner, council moved ahead and granted a third reading.
“I sincerely look forward to the owner or developer to come forward with a proposal for a rezoning that would allow them to develop in a way that is both bringing the community some housing and viable for them,” said Coun. Andrew Hamilton.
As the sole councillor opposed to the third reading, Coun. John French said, “I worry that this 5% increase along with other factors will cause this property to sit undeveloped for an unacceptably long period of time.”
The other bylaw that passed by a vote of 6-1, centred on a zoning update to Unit B, 1005 Industrial Way, where the Sea to Sky BC SPCA operates. As the SPCA’s temporary use permit is set to expire this year, the update is to rezone the specific unit to allow kennel and pet daycare.
There were two written submissions about this update, both from nearby businesses that were concerned about parking issues, waste, noise that would result from housing animals, and safe and accessible outdoor areas for the animals to play.
“This one's a little bit tougher,” said French, who voted in favour of the bylaw update. “There are issues at this property that I didn't know existed until tonight. … I'm hoping that our friends and partners at the SPCA are hearing the concerns of their neighbours and do everything that they can to address those concerns within this property.”
Coun. Eric Andersen was the sole opposing vote to the bylaw update, who cited “neighbourhood interface issues” in the business park.
“Secondly, we need to find solutions for operations, such as the SPCA, but I'm not convinced that this is a good location for those operations,” he said.
Contacted for a response after the meeting, Krista Larson, of the BC SPCA Sea to Sky Community Animal Centre told The Squamish Chief that the organization has served Squamish and its neighbouring regions since the 1970s and has operated the Sea to Sky community animal centre from 1005 B Industrial Way since 2019.
“Out of this centre, we provide sheltering and adoption services for cats and other small animals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs. It is important to note that we do not provide any sheltering or housing to dogs from the Sea to Sky centre and do not have dog kennels on site —any puppies who are surrendered to the Sea to Sky animal centre are almost immediately placed into foster homes,” Larson said in an email.
“As an organization reliant on the support of our community, it is incredibly important to the BC SPCA that we are good neighbours to surrounding businesses. We have been working closely with Strata LMS1332 to propose a number of solutions relating to concerns about parking and waste disposal at our centre. As we continue working towards a resolution that is suitable for all parties, we are committed to maintaining this ongoing relationship, both with the District of Squamish and the Strata LMS1332.”
Another bylaw update from the Sept. 12 meeting allows for higher density at 38171 to 38185 Westway Avenue, which houses the Westway Apartments.
It was unanimously granted a third reading by council.
While there is no current redevelopment plan for the area with the municipality, this update allows for a higher density of the parcel so long as 10% of the density goes toward affordable rental housing and another 10% goes toward market rental housing.
Council members heard from several members of the public about this change, who stated concerns about traffic and excessive speeding on Westway Avenue, and only one access to the neighbourhood.
French said he believed the best way forward to address those concerns was through the redevelopment of the site.
“Where we've landed with this bylaw is where we need to be at this point with this particular property,” he summarized.
Andersen shared similar reasonings as French.
“I just wish to acknowledge the comments made by a number of speakers emphasizing traffic safety issues, the issue of second access for Valleycliffe,” said Andersen. “We will, I'm sure, keep these issues in mind as we address other developments in this Stawamus valley corridor.”
The final bylaw update that was ultimately given a third reading added clarity around the use of two dorm room buildings at Capilano University.
The update clarified that use of the dorm rooms for short-term rental or tourist accommodations was only permitted between May 2 and Aug. 31, as the District maintained housing agreements with these two residences that restrict their use to student housing between Sept. 1 to May 1.
The update did not add any new uses, but municipal planner Bryan Daly clarified that the residences can allow workforce accommodations in these summer months if the stay was less than 30 days, which is the definition of short-term rental.
This update passed by a vote of 6-0, as Hamilton declared a conflict of interest and recused himself as an employee of Capilano University.