Maybe it's the fact that Valentine's Day is almost upon us that's got me gushing, but there are times when I love this town. I was reminded of this not only when the sun came out earlier this week - just when I was ready to give it all up, look upward into the sky and drown myself like the proverbial turkey.
I also couldn't help but be touched this week by the tone of inclusiveness in a recently released report on affordable housing in Squamish. The report is now available to the public and I'd recommend that residents interested in the subject give it a glance. It's a good read. It addresses the present state of affordable housing - gaps and all - for all segments of Squamish's population. From developers - whom residents sometimes say receive preferential treatment - to seniors and the chronically ill, to young families, single parents, the underemployed and underpaid, the consultants who drew up the report seem to have hit all the targets.
But what I found particularly appealing was the lack of elitism in the report's language. Nowhere is there a mention of the "type" of people who would be desirable for the town. I don't hear statements like those recently published in the letters section of a Whistler magazine from a resident encouraging the notion of attracting "the right kind of people." Or of a now infamous letter from a Point Grey resident who set her neighborhood above all others by calling her neighbours the "crème de la crème" of the city's population. If there are people who feel this way in Squamish, I think they know enough to keep those comments as their own shameful little secret shared only after it's made clear that they're surrounded by like-minded snobs.
I've always been a firm believer in a town's entire population creating the ambiance, not its elite. And if that ambiance has unappealing elements, residents should work together to make it better.
I appreciate those many Squamish individuals who speak up when the vulnerable people around them are unfairly treated. I think they're the ones who realize that anyone of us could end up in the lower income bracket or with severe physical or mental illness if just one thing zigged instead of zagged.
It's that anti-elitist sentiment the report's creators were able to capture with direction from the affordable housing committee and the residents they surveyed. And it's that collective voice of compassion that has enabled the affordable housing issue to receive much needed attention, pushing council in the direction in which it now seems to be going. Let's hope council continues on this same track of compassion and inclusiveness for all residents.
After all, who wants the "right kind of people" when diversity is what makes Squamish such an interesting place to live?