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Re: the referendum on Public Amenity and Recreational Facilities Loan Some of the current councillors are equating this proposal to obtaining a pre-approved mortgage; I prefer to equate it to buying a pre-approved pig in a poke.

Re: the referendum on Public Amenity and Recreational Facilities Loan

Some of the current councillors are equating this proposal to obtaining a pre-approved mortgage; I prefer to equate it to buying a pre-approved pig in a poke.

While some of the proposed facilities may be desirable to some of the taxpayers, it may be that many taxpayers are only willing to fund a few of these facilities. By passing this referendum, all of these are included, if in fact the cost is only $20 million. The fact that council has provided only a figure of $20 million with no cost estimates for any of the facilities - not even a cost per square foot estimate for each project - should make the voter wonder how they came up with $20 million in the first place.

Indeed, according to The Chief, "it will be difficult to get information on the concept. Very little information exists about the issue and there's no plan to generate anything between now and voting day." Try going to a bank and get a pre-approved mortgage with those conditions: "I'm not telling you anything; just give me the money." I don't think so!

Additionally, if council's estimate performance is based on the over-budget adventure centre, the question begged is: if they couldn't properly estimate the cost of a $2 million facility, how can they be trusted to properly estimate projects costing 10 times as much?

If one reads the referendum question, there is no listing of the amenity and recreational facilities proposed. In theory, the money could be spent on any facility deemed to fall into the category of amenity or recreational facility (ie: make up shortfalls on the adventure centre, spend millions on the estuary lands, cleaning them up etc.).

It seems to me that council would better serve the taxpayers by simply putting in motion a proposal to build these specific facilities and take each proposed project to the voters individually at the appropriate time.

In this way, the taxpaying public gets a vote on each project and can agree to pay or not to pay. It also ensures that the money approved goes to the specific project and is not spent at the whim of council. It might cost a little more but think of the additional cost as pre-approved insurance.

Larry McLennan


Vote 'no' to no information


Re: Facilities referendum

Would someone please help me out here? Our mayor tells us he doesn't need to tell us what he says in the confinement of the same office we voted him into.

If I remember correctly, it is our office and he is just using it. For him to say that we don't need to know what is going on in any office of his or any the council members is ludicrous.

Coun. Jeff Dawson calls the referendum a "mortgage pre-approval". I wonder if Mr. Dawson would buy a new home without knowing what he is buying - what it looked like, how much it would cost.

Hopefully not. It looks to me like Mr. Dawson and his partners on council are expecting the people of Squamish to accept a mortgage without knowing what they are paying for.

It is beyond me that all but one of the council members think the people in this town would be stupid enough to vote this referendum in without knowing what we are paying for.

Be careful folks, this is a runaway council and there is no one to stop them. Just check out the overruns on the cost of the new police station and already of the new Adventure Centre, the wheeling and dealing with the new "partners" for the new amenities. The flipping back and forth with the Ashlu power project (which, I might add, ended up the way it should have, cancelled). The hauling and storing of the waste at the garbage dump. The refusal of granting new gravel operators. Until council can come with some information on the spending for the referendum, please vote it down. I strongly believe we need some of the proposed projects, just not at the whim of some people who want to leave their own legacy.

Vote no until they deliver the proper information.

Laroy Watt


Facility worth tax increase


Since Squamish Council has obviously made such a botch of selling the idea of building new public facilities, please allow me the chance to help them out.

One thing neglected in all the scaremongering about any rise in taxes is the fact that Squamish is growing and will probably continue to grow.

That's why the new facilities are needed. As the letter last week from the minor hockey association makes plain, there is already a problem with a lack of ice time.

Perhaps I should point out to Squamish newcomers that the town has an appalling record of providing basic indoor recreational services. There wasn't even an indoor swimming pool or a skating rink until the late 70s or early 80s, long after Squamish needed and could well have afforded both.

The increased tax base through a higher population will lessen the impact of any new taxes because there will be more homeowners - like myself - paying property taxes. You can squabble about exactly how much of an increase there will be all you want, but in a few years time when the projects are completed, the higher quality of life for everyone will make it seem like a bargain.

A town that bills itself as the "Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada" shouldn't forget that indoor recreation is just as important in drawing in tourists and potential new residents.

Ian MacDonald

Hamburg, Germany

Tax increase not worth it

The following letter to Squamish Mayor and Council was copied to The Chief for publication.

Dear Mayor and Council:

The people of Squamish have a difficult decision to make. We have been asked to vote on Feb. 26 either yes or no for the District to borrow $20,000,000. That's 20 million dollars. With very little information, I might add.

I have thought very seriously about this and I need to know much more information before I place a yes vote. I hope that the voting public of Squamish takes this as seriously as I do.

I can tell you that the banks would not lend me money if I had given them the same information for a project I wanted to complete. Where's the plan?

1. What projects is it for and how many could realistically be constructed?

2. What are the estimated construction and operating costs for each project?

3. What is the projected cost overrun expected (and there always are)?

4. Which projects are of the highest priority?

5. Which projects will be completed first and who decides?

6. What if there isn't enough money to finish all of them, where does the rest of the money come from? Another loan?

7. What is the time frame for each project?

8. What happens to the projects that aren't deemed as important when the money runs out?

9. What about legal opinions and provincial criteria?

10. Do you have a plan? I would like to see it before I vote. Give me a reason to vote yes.

We are slowly getting taxed right out of our community. Who can afford to live here anymore? And now we want a huge whopping debt load and more operating costs year after year?

Why don't we work a little harder at getting large industry back to help pay the bills and not worry so much about the minimum-paying tourist attraction positions which seem to be cropping up all up and down the corridor? This is my opinion.

Pennie McNutt


Pizza and the pool


Thank you Coun. Corinne Lonsdale for reminding us it costs $1,030,827 annually to run the Brennan Park Recreation Centre swimming pool (Letters, The Chief, Feb. 4).

It works out to $117.58 per Squamish taxpayer or, at $10.99 per Mayor Sutherland pizza (with no special toppings or delivery), that's 11 pizzas annually. This is a lot of dough.

Buried in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District's public file on the Ashlu hydro project is an analysis of what this project would have annually contributed towards the pool. It is very complicated.

What it appears to say is that if this project went ahead, it would have produced about $75,000 annually in pool taxes or $750,000 over the next ten years. That is a lot of pizza, paid for by someone else for a change.

Coun. Lonsdale voted against this project. Mayor Sutherland, as a director of the SLRD, voted against this project. I haven't seen or heard much about this pool tax contribution. Maybe they didn't know about it.

If they did, then maybe they could explain why they didn't bring it to our attention.

Lower taxes means more pizza to eat. I am surprised the Squamish pizza makers didn't turn out in force at the Ashlu public hearings.

The kayakers who claim the Ashlu as their own might drink a few cups of coffee when they pass through Squamish.

This coffee revenue won't even buy one rubber duck for the pool.

What is the problem here?

Janice Grimes


Trailers are homes too


Re: "Trailer park residents mobilize," The Chief, Feb. 4:

I am writing because I am so saddened. There is a rumour going around town that says our esteemed mayor and some councillors are not liking "trailer parks" in Squamish and would like to see the parks replaced with other modes of living accommodation.

I am saddened because some of us "simple living" folks happen to like our homes, called mobile homes because they were brought to this piece of land on wheels. The wheels have since been removed but they are still referred to as mobile homes. Some of us, including my mother, take offence at them being called trailers. A trailer is what you use to go camping in.

Anyway, to make a short story long, the first time I drove through Timbertown Estates it reminded me of driving through a seaside town of cottages. Most trailers were painted nicely and there were beautiful gardens and trees growing. And so I rented for six months and quite enjoyed living in a trailer park - so much so that I decided to find one to buy.

Having lived in and owning a trailer for 14 years has been an interesting experience and mostly quite enjoyable. I have been blessed with good neighbours, which is most important, and have made some good friends. Yes, there are drawbacks; you don't own your land, pay an exorbitant pad rental and don't get the promised maintenance upkeep on the land and park. But overall I have liked trailer living.

Another reason I bought a mobile home was because it was all I could afford, and besides, I didn't need a big house being by myself. I have fixed my trailer up, painted a few times and made it my home. My trailer is 34 years old. It couldn't be moved and besides that there is nowhere to move it. And so what would I do? Walk away and lose my meagre investment. My trailer is just as valuable to me as is Mr. Money Bags' million-dollar home up on Glacier View Drive.

So, please Mr. Mayor and councillors, do not rezone our lands. We love our homes be that they are only "trailers" in some people's eyes.

Lynn Payne


Mashiter Creek logging explained


I whole-heartedly agree with Mr. McKinnon's letter in last week's Chief that our greatest asset is our natural environment. No one understands this more than Merrill & Ring, a company that for almost 100 years has depended on the way it manages a sustainable forest.

Merrill & Ring's primary goal has always been to protect our natural resources to the best of our ability. Our commitment to Squamish residents reflects this. We have encouraged the use and enjoyment of the natural scenery and resources on our land by all Squamish residents for hiking, biking and family walks on our extensive trail network - much built by local residents on old logging roads constructed over the years by the company. We have always been a great supporter of the Test of Metal race and its continued use of trails through our property.

Our continued commitment to Squamish and sustainability is reflected in our proposed Squamish Highlands neighbourhood concept, one that offers significant community benefits to all area residents and has been conceived and developed in partnership with local residents and community groups.

For example, before any concept designs are drawn up, we have been consulting heavily with the Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association (SORCA) and the Squamish Trails Society on the trails that run through the property and how to preserve, maintain and enhance this network. The proposed Squamish Highlands community will be built around these existing community assets.

A few points in Mr. McKinnon's letter must be addressed. First, the land on DL508 is devoted to the growing and harvesting of forest products.

This land is a part of our long-term forestry asset properties and is managed by the forestry division of M&R. As such, all operations on this land are subject to the Private Lands Forest Practices Regulation. As well, in recognition of the importance of these watersheds to the town and region, our Squamish lands are included in the Stawamus-Mashiter Integrated Watershed Management Plan, which includes provisions for harvest and other forest management activities.

All of the harvest is on the east side of Mashiter Creek, downstream of the water collection system. A no-harvest buffer ranging from 30 to 75 metres wide will be left along the east side of Mashiter Creek. Smaller tributary streams also have buffers of 15 to 20 metres. The waterline trail will not be disturbed.

Again, the land on DL508 is devoted to the growing and harvesting of forest products in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Donald L. Corson

Vice President, Planning and Development, Merrill & Ring

What slowdown?

Editor,I was traveling to Vancouver one morning and found myself at the end of a 40-car snake moving at 55 km-h as I'm sure many of you have. As the clicks rolled by, I had described that front car with every adverb and adjective which shouldn't be repeated for not pulling over to allow the other traffic by! The very next day the same thing occurred, one small car holding up a 2-km line of traffic.

I began to curse but stopped as I drove by a very interesting sign which read "Rockfall Hazard for 600m - No Stopping".

The sign was posted just before the approaching pullout at the roadside which could have been used by the impeding car. I took note as one after the other these same signs were posted in areas just before where a car could pull over to allow others by!

Now, I didn't add up the total of the posted no-stopping distances, but it would seem that you just shouldn't stop on the entire highway because of rockfall hazards! Let's face it, these visiting drivers are scared silly anyways, never mind cars flashing their lights, honking their horns, being given the bird and then seeing a sign cautioning them not to stop!

The other problem appears to be the word "pullout". I believe these should be renamed "pullovers'" and marked accordingly. Pullout, it would appear, is to pull out in front of traffic and not to the roadside. Very often these unengineered areas slope sharply away from the road. They have no lighting and are usually treed in with limited visibility!

Even the "legal" pullout at Tunnel Point is in a tight turn with broken pavement, no lighting and limited visibility. Who in their right mind would ever use one of these jokes to motoring when they are already having difficulty driving the road?

We as commuters often overdrive the road because of our familiarity with it. Next time you are behind the slow snake, think of the previous points and save yourself from the stress of being impeded.

Remember this is a Ministry of Transportation problem! I challenge anyone, sitting on any highway advisory board or committee dealing with Hwy. 99 to include the issue of signage and pullouts at your next meeting.

M. Duff


Keep trail users in the loop


I recently received notification from the Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association (SORCA) that some trees were felled along a power line right-of-way between the S&M Connector and Endo trails (this is on the Test of Metal mountain bike route), which made Endo inaccessible. It was further noted that SORCA was working with the contractor to try to get this cleaned up in a timely manner.

While the need to clear the right-of-way is not an issue, once again I am left asking why the District of Squamish and SORCA were left out of the loop. SORCA president Cliff Miller told me that neither SORCA nor the District even knew that the clearing was to take place. This is not the first time that SORCA and the District have found out about this type of clearing after the fact.

If the District is serious about its trademarked name of "Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada," one would think that the District would put in place a mechanism so that the District, SORCA and other groups representing trail users would be involved, before any land clearing or logging occurs, in ensuring that negative impacts to the trail network will be mitigated.

Being known as an outdoor adventure recreation Mecca sounds good on paper; the District of Squamish Council and bureaucrats need to start paying better attention to protecting this area's incredible natural assets.

Ron Enns


A refined gateway of Squamish


It is wonderful that an adventure centre is being established in Squamish. After all, this town has much to offer in the way of hiking, cycling, boating, rock climbing, wind surfing, etc. That the adventure centre is being situated at the gateway to our community speaks of people's recognition of the importance of tapping into Squamish's beautiful assets (the imposing monolith, the extensive estuary, the availability and accessibility of large contiguous forests, the abundance of rivers, the bald eagles).

Why not enhance the appeal and use of this adventure centre site by adding an exceptionally large and diverse children's playground at the Burritt & Sons truck shop site and/or towards Rose Park? There are oodles of traveling families and they need safe roadside stops at which to diffuse young pent-up energy. There are very few such places (and certainly no play parks) visible from the highway in the Sea to Sky corridor. A grand playground at Squamish's gateway would undoubtedly bring in a significant proportion of vacationers and commuters alike.

The Adventure Centre, playground, and Rose Park would be further enhanced by a waterfront trail (and/or boardwalk) that links this isolated site to the downtown core. Think Ambleside. It is aesthetic and it attracts people from all walks of life, who want to get out for a casual ramble. A connector route would help to revitalize the downtown area by drawing more people in.

I encourage (beg) council and the community at large to embrace this vision of the gateway, and the opportunity it offers to: (1) enhance Squamish's economic well being; (2) instill a greater sense of community pride; and (3) encourage more residents to get out of doors. It is a worthwhile investment and the upcoming 2010 Olympics is just the occasion to make it happen.

Linda Dupuis


Hide cigs from kids


In mid-January 2005, significant positive strides were made in Saskatchewan to protect children and youth from tobacco products. On Jan. 19th , the Supreme Court of Canada upheld Saskatchewan's legislation prohibiting the use of promotional tobacco retail displays in premises accessible to minors.

Practically, this means that when children and youth go into places that sell cigarettes, such as a convenience store or a gas bar, they will not be visually assaulted by tobacco advertising behind and/or on top of the counter. In Saskatchewan, cigarettes and other tobacco products have to be completely hidden from view, such as by placing them under the counter, behind curtains, in cabinets or some other non-visible option. As promotional advertising and sponsorship for tobacco products have become increasingly restrictive in Canada, the tobacco industry has found new and creative ways to promote their products, and this is one example of how the tobacco industry has continued to promote and market its deadly products.

Manitoba and Nunavut have similar legislation in place to protect their children and youth. Not less than four years ago, British Columbia was seen to be an international leader in creative and unique programs and legislation to protect children and youth from a product that kills one in two users. We encourage the government of B.C. to capitalize on the leadership shown by Saskatchewan by bringing in similar legislation to protect our children and youth. If this is the new gold standard, shouldn't we be leading the way as we look towards 2010?

Ms. Bobbe Wood, Chief Executive Officer, Heart and Stroke Foundation of B.C. & Yukon

Mr. Scott McDonald, Executive Director, British Columbia Lung Association

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