Squamish’s new council let Sea to Sky Corridor MLA Jordan Sturdy know that they want regional transit and improvements to Highway 99.
During his first visit to the new council, Sturdy listened to the concerns that recently-elected municipal officials had.
It remains unclear how much he'll be able to act upon those requests, as his BC Liberal party doesn't have enough seats in the legislative assembly to get bills passed.
Nevertheless, council asked him for help in addressing the items on their wishlist. Unsurprisingly, one of these sticking points was regional transit.
“Apparently the ministry doesn’t understand why our timeline is, like, now, versus 2020,” said Mayor Karen Elliott.
“Regional transit is something I think people thought was a no brainer when we lost Greyhound, and we put out climate change plans that require less single-[user] vehicles, but somehow our request for regional transit doesn’t seem urgent to the ministry.”
Sturdy said this was a “long held aspiration” of his, and that he’d support regional transit.
Another sticking point on that topic was the formation of the commission that would govern regional transit in the Sea to Sky.
Coun. Doug Race asked Sturdy if there was a possibility of amending legislation to allow the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations to sit on the committee as well.
“We’d like to see them on the commission but the legislation doesn’t actually permit that,” said Race.
He said that previously legislators argued First Nations shouldn’t sit on such committees, because they presumably don’t pay taxes, but that argument doesn’t stand anymore.
“They individually have private businesses and so forth that are tax-paying,” said Race. “It’s not just what happens on reserves anymore, they’re much more connected in the community.”
However, Sturdy said that if the provincial government were to create regulations that would allow for that, they’d have to make it apply across the province.
The same situation may not be universal throughout B.C., so that could present a challenge to having that kind of legislation passed, he said.
“Not every circumstance is the same,” Sturdy said. “You have common aspirations, potentially, anyway, in terms of development and the integration of the Squamish Nation in this community — that may not be the case in other situations.”
The other big talking point for council was the Sea to Sky Highway.
Since the highway directly affects the municipality, yet it has no jurisdiction over it, the road was another item that was top of mind.
Council presented Sturdy with a laundry list of intersections that need to be made safer. They requested improvements including acceleration lanes and lights, among other things.
The most urgent of these was the intersection of Cleveland Avenue and Highway 99, the mayor said.
Murrin Park was also identified as a substantial hazard. Alice Lake’s intersection was also deemed in need of safety improvements.
Site B’s intersection was also on the list of offenders, as was the Highway intersection near the Shady Tree.
Councillors added that the lights at Britannia Beach, on the intersection of Highway 99 and Copper Drive were also backing up traffic and causing safety concerns. This is especially an issue, considering that Britannia will be undergoing major development soon, they said.
***Please note this article has been corrected to fix a typographical error on Mayor Karen Elliott's quote, "Our request for regional transit doesn’t seem urgent to the ministry." Previously the last word was mistakenly written as 'industry.'