Editor’s note: This letter is in response to the story, “Council votes to keep growth management limit in OCP,” published Jan. 25. The letter-writer is a member of the family who owns the land in question.
In March 2017, due to extensive pressure from the biking, business and the community at large, a councillor brought forward a motion to consider removing the current 22,500 population cap development on certain parcels of land. The community was requesting the cap to be removed, as it would allow for the creation of Canada’s first Mountain Bike Community Hub.
In turn, this would provide the city with the opportunity for economic growth in the millions, the creation of hundreds of new local jobs, and the growth of small local businesses. In response to this pressure the mayor told the community that the issue would be addressed in the OCP review.
Since the release of the full version of the OCP, 98 per cent of public comments support removing the 22,500 & 34,000 population caps and to change “adopted policies” to “consider policies,” according to a District report. An overwhelming majority of public support concurred that making these minor changes would be mutually beneficial for the community. Most of the respondents reject the current draft of the OCP and it is reasonable to say that the council and staff have missed the mark. It is clear that the public wants to see development of Future Residential Land, which can provide the following extraordinary community benefits to the residents of Squamish:
*Access to bike trails for the public (Mountain Bike Trail reserve)
*Affordable rental housing
*Missing middle housing
*Neighborhood commercial spaces
*Maintaining green space
*Child day care center
The aforementioned community benefits would enable Squamish to become Canada’s first Mountain Biking Community hub with a residential community and a rec tech business hub built amongst the trail network.
Even with the potential to provide all of these extraordinary community benefits, the developer would not even be able to have council consider their development application. Instead, the developer would be told to wait until the six precursor policies are adopted, which could take five, 10, or even 15 years to adopt while everyone else in town would be able to continue to present development applications to council for consideration.
When I bought DL509/510 there was a population cap of 20,000, then in 2009 it was pushed up to 22,500 and now council is proposing 34,000. Council continues to move the threshold every time the OCP comes up for review with no clear justification as to why.
This type of administrative arbitrariness is inexplicable and unreasonable.
We have granted the public unfettered access to our land for over a decade. We have worked and garnered the support of hundreds of trail walkers and runners, parents that take their kids and dogs on the trails, SORCA, biking event co-coordinators, Squamish Chamber of Commerce, school community and the community at large to allow limited development based on these extraordinary community benefits.
We are not asking to develop the entire 480 acres of land; we just want to develop a portion. This is a community driven effort and a project to create the first Mountain Bike Community Hub in Canada that would provide a truly remarkable opportunity for the city of Squamish.
It is my contention that I have done all in my power to be transparent and communicative with the council and the Squamish community. However, the matter of the fact is the community’s voice and my own are being ignored. The continued increase in the population cap has no legitimate merit in terms of policy and remains arbitrary. As such, I want the public to know that my land is private land and if access is closed off, it is solely due to the fact that council continues to change the goal posts and has chosen to not follow its own previously set policies.