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Opinion: Squamish post-secondary opportunities key to our future

When we think about what we want for Squamish, generational sustainability should be part of it.
HispanolisticSquamish Univesities
Professor explaining something to a couple of college students in a robotics class using a laptop computer. With more post secondary opportunities, (and affordable housing) Squamish kids can stay in town and thrive.

If you hadn’t moved away from where you were born after high school graduation, what would you be doing for work today?

It is an interesting question and relates to what we can focus on in Squamish as hundreds of local youth head out into the world.

Many in town note that their kids have moved away.

Three of my four don’t live here.

I moved away from where I grew up.

I spent my early years in a mill town, much like Squamish used to be, called Crofton. Both my parents worked in the local pulp mill.

In my case, my parents moved away for my dad’s position, which became national.

My story is likely not much different than many in town.

If I had stayed in that original mill town, I would have worked there, too and married someone who worked there.

I am proud to have worked at that mill in high school, actually. I made almost $16 an hour in 1986. That was a lot of money.

Today though, it is likely I would have been part of the layoffs that have come at the Crofton mill as it weathered the economy’s ups and downs. Today, that mill employs 590 people, including management. It employed about 2,000 when my parents worked there. Thus, had I stayed, I would likely have been under-employed and under-skilled. My kids would likely have had to leave to make a living.

The same can be said about many former industrial hotbeds around the globe.

So when we think about what we want for Squamish, generational sustainability should be part of it.

We want our kids to be able to stay and be educated.

So we need educational opportunities and housing affordability.

If we don’t have those, we risk a ‘brain-drain’ as younger people — along with their ideas for innovation that will grow our economy — will leave our town for better opportunities.

Post-secondary institutions are one option that can breathe fresh life into a community.

We have to cross our fingers that Quest University Canada can expand and thrive, and celebrate that Capilano University is coming back to the oceanfront. That can’t happen soon enough.

We need as many educational and skills training opportunities here in town for our youth as we can get.

As Harvard economics professor Edward Glaeser is quoted as saying, “the best way to encourage economic development is to attract and train smart people and then get out of their way.”