News Briefs: Traffic delays. Dike loans. Vancouver to Squamish bus and much more

Here's this week's news briefs roundup

Expect traffic delays

It is Pemby Fest time. An increase in traffic volume is expected from July 13 to 18 due to the Pemberton Music Festival.

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A temporary speed limit of 50 km/h has been implemented from July 6 to July 20 on Highway 99 from Pemberton to Mount Currie to provide additional safety for those along the roadway, according to a festival news release. 

There will be no paving work happening between Whistler and Pemberton on the Sea to Sky Highway during the festival.

For up-to-date route information, visit the DriveBC website at www.drivebc.ca.

 

Loans for roads and dikes

The District of Squamish is set to borrow $1.6M for phase one of a $3M road project and $1,376,406 for dike constructions costs. 

The Peninsula Main Road Capital Works Loan Authorization Bylaw and the Capital Works Loan Authorization passed third reading on July 5. The bylaws still have to come back before council for final adoption. 

 

Vancouver to Squamish bus

A pilot transit route to local parks, run by a not-for-profit organization, will come through Squamish from Vancouver for two days later this summer. 

Parkbus BC’s buses will stop at Garibaldi, Alice Lake, Shannon Falls and Stawamus Chief Provincial Parks as a pilot project Aug. 20 and Sept. 10.

The group’s goal is to fill transportation gaps to key outdoor locations, according to its website. For more information go to www.parkbus.ca/vancouver.

 

New chamber exec sought

The Squamish Chamber of Commerce is seeking a new executive director. Suzanne McCrimmon has held the position since December 2014. Requests for comment from McCrimmon and the chamber were not returned. An advertisement was placed in The Chief for applications for the position with a deadline of July 31.

 

Guard working

Having a security guard at the Squamish Public Library is working, according to a report presented to the public and corporate services standing committee Tuesday morning. RCMP calls have decreased to 0-1 times per month since installing a guard in December, according to Hilary Bloom, director of library services. Prior to the guard, staff at the library was on “tenterhooks” dealing with behavior and safety issues, Bloom said at a previous council meeting. The presence of the guard hasn’t had a negative impact on patrons. Library activity is increasing, according to the report submitted to council.

The guard was approved for the 2016 municipal budget at $78,000 per year, which pays for a guard to be in place seven days a week. 

 

Deferral lifted

The moratorium on processing applications for developments on high-hazard properties in Brackendale has been lifted at the district. 

For the 10th time, council had a lengthy discussion on the Integrated Flood Hazard Management Plan at the committee of the whole Tuesday afternoon. 

Council voted to support allowing development on the approximately 11 impacted properties with conventional flood proofing, but they put a cap on density of 29 units per hectare – when there is a rezoning that increases density or flood risk.

Staff’s recommendation was to implement a policy whereby an entire property would be raised with fill to take the site above the flood hazard level. A few of the impacted landowners spoke at the meeting, including former mayor of Squamish Greg Gardner, to implore council to be more permissive in its standards due to the cost of implementing staff’s recommendation. Other speakers questioned how the community would look with some properties raised significantly higher than neighbours. Since December, while council and staff have dealt with flood mitigation options, any in-stream applications to develop on the affected lands have been on hold, and new applications have not been processed.

 

New district principal

The Sea to Sky School District has a new district principal for learning services. 

The Board of Education announced the appointment of Phillip Clarke to the position this week, effective Aug. 1.

According to the school district, Clarke has a masters in special education from San Francisco State University and is credentialed in education leadership and administration. He obtained his bachelor of education at the University of Toronto, and has a bachelor of arts from the University of Ottawa. Clarke is currently the assistant principal at South San Francisco High School. 

The previous district principal of learning services was Marilyn Caldwell. 

 

Walking, bike plan drafted

A draft of the District of Squamish’s active transportation plan was presented to council by consultants at the committee of the whole Tuesday afternoon. 

The $36-million plan aims to increase transportation choices within Squamish and to provide “an accessible, sustainable, and efficient transportation system for all users,” according to the draft plan. The document outlines infrastructure projects, actions and policies to encourage walking and cycling in the district over the next two decades. 

Some proposed strategies include adding 20 kilometres of new sidewalks, especially on major streets, along transit routes and near schools. About 50 kilometres of new bike route infrastructure would also be added, according to the plan.

Improvements to north-south connections for walking and biking would also be undertaken. The grand total for improvements to implement the 50 recommended actions in the plan is predicted to cost $36,281,000.

The report stressed that tackling the highest-needed upgrades, such as lighting along the Corridor Trail, to further encourage walking and cycling would cost roughly $8 million. At minimum, the report proposes the district put $600,000 per year for the next five years into active transportation upgrades. The present active transportation budget is $967,000 but is mostly made up of grants and donations, which is not sustainable on a yearly basis, according to district staff.

The trail through Rose Park and improving safety on Cleveland Avenue in front of McDonalds, adding countdown timers to certain intersections and improvement to the Discovery Trail intersection are listed as early priorities in the plan. A revised plan will be brought back to council at a meeting in September incorporating council’s feedback, such as focusing on the densest areas of Squamish and prioritizing Government Road.

 

In honour of local stars

How the municipality can recognize community builders was the focus of discussion at Tuesday’s public and corporate services standing committee. 

With Canada’s 150th anniversary fast approaching, council members discussed ideas such as walk of fame stars on the sidewalk, keys to the city and plaques to honour those who have greatly contributed to the building of Squamish. Out of the conversation a revived community recognition policy is going to be drafted by district staff. Staff is scheduled to bring a draft policy back to council sometime in September. 

 

Electric car share? 

At the request of Matt Blackman of the Squamish Alternative Energy Group, council directed staff to draft a general letter of support for an electric car share program in the district. Council does not lend support to any specific company or have an interest in running a car-share, but the municipality can encourage the set-up and possibly help with infrastructure, Mayor Patricia Heintzman said at Tuesday’s public and corporate services standing committee meeting. The letter will go back before council at a future meeting.

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