After a difficult week for the relationship between the Sea to Sky University (SSU) and the District of Squamish, the SSU project team is pressing ahead and delays to the projected opening in September 2006 are not expected.
Last week, council decided to defer a decision on a university request for a development variance permit (DVP), while Coun. Raj Kahlon expressed frustration with SSU, saying he feels the project continues to come to council too often with items that must be dealt with immediately. He said he could not support the DVP application.
SSU project leader, Peter Ufford, said on Friday (July 30) that the SSU team apologizes for the affects of last week's meeting.
The SSU presentation on the DVP application was supposed to be headed up by the SSU director of retail development, Terry Partington, but he did not attend the meeting.
In a news release from SSU Dr. David Strangway, the university president, explained that Partington was called to Toronto to be with his mother. Partington's mother passed away in Ontario on July 26, the day before the council meeting.
"Mr. Partington informed District staff of the situation before he left and arranged for two other consultants to attend to answer questions regarding the three SSU applications on the agenda," Strangway said.
"Sea to Sky University trusts Council members will fully understand and sympathize with the reason why SSU was not more fully represented at the July 27 meeting, and will agree that the circumstance was both compelling and unavoidable."
Following the presentation by the other consultants the members of council felt they needed more information and couldn't take the leap of faith that staff said council would be taking by granting the DVP. The issue will be discussed again on Sept. 7.
"We look forward to answering any questions Council may pose at that time, particularly on the matter of sustainability," said Strangway. "Our SSU project - both the university itself and our market-housing component - will be leaders and pioneers in this area through a host of innovations, including geothermal heating and cooling, landscaping and campus design."
Ufford said that he's confident the events of last week will be dealt with on Sept. 7. Through the month of August, work on the project will press ahead, Ufford said. He noted that by moving ahead without the DVP does pose some risks but the SSU team is hoping that the DVP will be in place as of early September.
The SSU wants council to relax the requirements for street lighting, drainage and the road widths of three roads on the university property. The motivation for the relaxation is SSU's desire to approach development of the site in a manner that is more sensitive to the environment and sustainability.
The three roads are Village Drive, University Parkway and the Garibaldi Park Road. University Parkway extends from the Mashiter Creek Bridge, which is currently under construction. Village Drive is a short gateway street from the Garibaldi Park Road to the university campus.
There was particular concern from Coun. Corinne Lonsdale over the reduced standards being sought for the Garibaldi Park Road.
The university team pointed out that while the DVP is delayed, two separate key decisions were made by council at the July 27 meeting.
Council passed first and second readings of two bylaw amendments. One pertains to the development permit area guidelines that form part of the SSU Sub Area Plan within the District's Official Community Plan. The second is in regard to SSU's Zoning Bylaw to permit zero lot line setbacks for the University Village. The two matters will be subject to a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7.
"Council's passage of these readings was yet another example of their strong cooperation as our partner in establishing SSU in this community, and we thank Mayor Sutherland and all Council members for their invaluable support," Strangway said.