District council has adopted this year’s municipal budget, and several large-scale projects are either in progress or on the to-do list. Everything considered, 2022 is shaping up to be a pivotal year on the infrastructure. A new $16.7 million Fire Hall is under construction, which includes an Emergency Operations Centre and administration building.
Funding will consist of a combination of debt, land reserves, and grants. The good news is the $4 million tab for a new water reservoir will be covered by Development Cost Charges.
And the wastewater treatment plant, which is budgeted at $13 million will be funded from a combination of DCCs and the Wastewater Reserve fund.
Community amenities contributions have made several affordable housing initiatives possible. Fifty-five low-cost housing units were secured when the Waterfront Landing development (SEAandSKY) permit was issued. Eight units were secured in Garibaldi Springs and two in The Wilfred.
The bad news is the 2022 General Property Tax Revenue Requirement is $34,265,000, which is 4.07% higher than 2021.
That means taxpayers will be on the hook for an average increase of $91 per residence.
The long-awaited Squamish Housing Society has finally gone from a much-studied concept to a soon-to-be-launched reality and it couldn’t come at a better time. In December council voted 5-1 in favour of giving three readings to establish a constitution and a set of bylaws that will govern the organization. The objective is to provide a range of housing that will cost residents no more than 30% of their gross income
One protracted issue in search of an answer is the state of the Squamish boat launch. According to members of the local boating community, despite being blessed with a big-league sea-port and large swaths of oceanfront, the municipal boat launch is a bush-league operation.
Access to the facility is sketchy and the area is becoming more congested every year.
Parking is limited and haphazard.
A Facebook page and an eight-member committee have been launched to help further the cause. Apparently, that flurry of activity is paying off: the District’s comprehensive map of marine access points will include options for a public boat launch facility.
In December, council approved a new vision for the Brennan Park Recreation Centre lands. Some of the features in the package include a splash park, an indoor bike park, and an equestrian facility. Other highlights are an indoor sports space valued in the vicinity of $3.5 million, a change room estimated at up to $3 million and a park office with a price tag peaking at $1.5 million.
The bottom line is that 75% of this community’s infrastructure is reaching its best before date and will have to be replaced or refurbished. Over time, an investment of $150 million will be required to get those facilities up to speed.
Where all the financing will come from has yet to be determined.
Political columnist Helmut Manzl writes about all things related to Muni Hall for The Squamish Chief twice per month.