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Letter: A Squamish Neighbourhood Plan without a defined neighbourhood

'Having no defined neighbourhoods seems like a convenient way to create narratives that suit desired outcomes for the infill agenda.'
Petitioners believe that the neighbourhood planning process for Garibaldi Estates could disrupt the area and threaten the historic veterans’ lands.

Last October, I attended a Garibaldi Estates Neighbourhood Planning open house. I left horrified but also embarrassed by my naivety about municipal planning and politicking. Afterwards, I pledged to be more engaged in what’s happening to this community, which I have called home since 2005.

I read the OCP; I engaged on Let’s Talk Squamish, I reached out to all council members and met with those who responded. I went to coffee with councillors, met with the mayor and connected with neighbours.

I listened intently at the neighbourhood open house at Howe Sound Secondary school. I also reached out to the Squamish Food Policy Council and was invited to the Districts’ planning for food and agriculture in the Garibaldi Estates’ session in December.

Most recently, I attended a small discussion group conversation for the Garibaldi Estate Neighbourhood Plan, facilitated by Matt Gunn from the District of Squamish Planning Department.

In preparation, I searched for the actual definition of where Garibaldi Estates is. I couldn’t find one. I was perplexed as we are in Stage 3 of Neighbourhood Planning for Garibaldi Estates. How we can possibly plan a neighbourhood that does not have defined parameters?

The District has a mandate of “housing diversity” in Garibaldi Estates. This confuses me. I think Garibaldi Estates, as I believe it to exist, exemplifies diversity. It currently has a small farm, manufactured/mobile homes, row houses, commercial/mixed-use, a multitude of townhouses, duplexes, tri and quad-plexes, single family homes, small lot homes in Amblepath, and more.... that’s a pretty diverse selection with a variety of price points.  

The fact that one can’t easily find a map of our neighbourhoods didn’t sit well with me.

After some sleuthing, I did find a map of neighbourhoods — created by the District of Squamish — on Apparently, if you are a developer and looking to invest in Squamish, there are defined neighbourhoods for you to choose from. If you are a resident, taxpayer and engaged citizen looking to participate in Neighbourhood Planning, there is not.

This, along with other issues in the process, has left me thinking that this is not a true neighbourhood planning exercise. It is a play to develop the VLA Land. Scarce, arable, productive food-producing land currently protected from medium/high density and further subdivision by a decades-old bylaw in place to save it from development and to support local, healthy food production.

Having no defined neighbourhoods seems like a convenient way to create narratives that suit desired outcomes for the infill agenda.

How can you have a density equation with no parameters to calculate from?

This is a precarious precedent for this Neighbourhood Plan as well as those to follow.

Jill Dunnigan
Garibaldi Estates