More questions than answers on Nexen lands
Do you know what is going on at the former Nexen lands? After a year of questions for the Squamish Oceanfront Development Corp. CEO and Board Chair, there are today more questions than answers.
Squamish's priceless Howe Sound Oceanfront community asset is being presented to four retail real estate developers: Intrawest, Qualex, Holborn Group and Concord Pacific as a development opportunity. One has already been chosen as the "preferred proponent" at a closed-door meeting of Squamish Council earlier this month and the press conference and photo opps are being planned. We, the owners of this land, won't be told who our partner is until the deal is done and the grip-and-grin photos taken. It seems SODC and Mayor Sutherland are going to use the "positive cash position" generated by bringing a real estate developer to the Oceanfront table in place of the community will sort out the negative cash position at the Adventure Centre. Is this a joke?According to SODC CEO Mike Chin, "Squamish can't afford a park on the Oceanfront." What? Who says? Who decided we should be building up to 2,500 dwelling units down there? Redeveloping the Nexen site has been promoted as a $500 million community development opportunity. Somehow, the powers that be are willing to give developmental and capital control of our half-billion dollar asset to a real estate developer for a few million bucks of debt coverage for our unaccountable, out of control, arms' length District corporations. What community development has the $1.3 million SODC already spent brought us? Guaranteed public access to the waterfront? Already got it; we own it. BC Rail sold it to us for $3 as hush money for Squamish's political silence on the BCR-CN sellout deal. SODC is promising us what we already have. Talk about selling Squamish short. When will Squamish learn from its mistakes? Many respectable, long-time Squamish citizens are asking hard questions and getting no answers.
Where is the community design for the site? What is the relationship between SODC, the District and our new real estate "partner"? How transparent are these deals? How come the development community is at the table and the Squamish community is not? Private developers are doing an excellent job of bringing tax revenue to the valley on land not billed as "Squamish's Crown Jewel." What's the hurry? Until these and many more questions are answered there should be no developer deals and significant more time and energy in transparent community outreach to develop our vision for our Oceanfront asset. Time and space is our luxury, robust haste creates waste. This District Council bent on determining the how's and why's of cost overruns at the Adventure Centre should let bygones be bygones and open their eyes, ears and mouths to these hard questions facing them now. Two wrongs will never make a right, but they may make our debts go away. A half-billion-dollar debacle on the Oceanfront will make that Adventure Centre mess look like chump change. Who is in charge here?
Squamish DowntownNeighbourhood Association
Sawmill site should be port
Canada's Pacific trade strategists have launched a review of how to prevent municipal rezoning of lands such as the Interfor sawmill site. B.C.'s Ports Strategy proposes a Ports Land Reserve - the ALR as model.
Years of wasteful land use allocation have caught up with the "Greater Vancouver Pacific Gateway", now facing some serious, complicated dilemmas.
The effects for Squamish were predicted years ago. Only the housing market aspects are discussed today - not the land use planning advice and warnings.
Three months ago, Coquitlam City Council cancelled a rezoning application process for Interfor's Fraser Mills sawmill site. Housing use was rejected. The main issues also apply here:
Loss of scarce industrial lands;
Many housing projects already;
Growing population and future employment needs;
Keeping job-generating sites near residents to reduce commuting;
Potential NIMBY pressures;
Major road access and improvement costs assigned to taxpayers.
Mamquam Blind Channel industrial lands are integral to the strategic position and potential of Squamish.
A major Pemberton-to-Hwy 97 road upgrade is likely in future, and then a new picture for local port/terminal development - not just for tourism.
CN may become interested to ship more freight directly from here to U.S. ports. Bellingham is already preparing for this idea.GVRD planners are also interested. Greater use of water transport would alleviate Lower Mainland congestion and air pollution problems.
Facilities at Squamish for inter-modal container shipping would immediately enhance potential for value-added manufacturing investment - both here and in communities further up the line (eg. Lillooet).
Pridham Developments account of their proposal's economic impact reflects a lack of awareness that is widespread. Damage would occur to future interests well beyond Squamish.
The economic impacts of housing development are not comparable to an industry use alternative - for Downtown, for Squamish as a "complete community", and for the B.C. and Canadian economies.
Win-win prospects for the Blind Channel and waterfront redevelopment should be quite good.
However, the current scenarios and poorly informed processes concerning the fate of these land resources are completely unacceptable.
Town's affection amazes Ray Peters' father-in-law
To Mayor Ian Sutherland and the people of Squamish and area, I wish to offer my views as pertinent to the passing of Raymond Peters and the manner in which he has been revered by all of you concerned. I am Robert (Bob) Nuttall, patron of the 1000 Islands Branch of the Royal Canadian Regiment Association, and the father of Ray's wife Anne. I am approaching the age of 83 and served in World War II and Korea. Ray was and remains an honoured associate of our branch.
Never, ever in my life's span have I witnessed such an outpouring of affection and appreciation such as you have shown for my friend Ray. We were like brothers. I must mention the emotional feeling I experienced especially at the sight of the firefighters, RCMP, et all. I realized that they reminded me of the war years and of the gallant men I served with. Those fine gentlemen and ladies are indeed likened to those with whom I served. They too play a role in the protection of citizenry, and deserve accolades for their chosen role in society.
During my stay at the Howe Sound Inn I was overwhelmed by the hospitality and care I received. Also, to the many people whom I had the honour to meet so briefly, may I say thank you for your kindnesses. To me, Squamish is "Heaven on Earth"