OPINION: Squamish, the commercial Bermuda Triangle? | Squamish Chief

OPINION: Squamish, the commercial Bermuda Triangle?

The hottest news on the local business front is the pending arrival of Nexii Building Solutions and the 150 full-time high-end jobs the firm will generate. By all accounts, company officials are stoked about setting up their green construction technology plant at the BCR Properties Rail Yards in Squamish.

They are no doubt aware BC Business magazine ranked Squamish as the best place to work in the province, and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business claims this is the leading location to start a business.                                                                                                                               

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That glowing preface aside, a representative from the District’s economic development department should inform the new arrivals about the potential pitfalls of setting up shop in B.C.’s unofficial commercial Bermuda Triangle.                                                                                                   

To begin with, a short history lesson is mandatory about the loss of over 300 jobs after the 93-year-old Western Forest Products pulp mill at Woodfibre was shuttered in 2006. Next on the agenda should be a brief discussion about the demise of the Garibaldi 5 Cinema complex in 2012, an enterprise that was up to its armpits in red-ink before it folded.

The operators owed a significant sum in back rent and when a tab for $400,000 loomed to upgrade all five theatres from film to digital, the screens went dark and the building morphed into a dollar store.                                                                                                                     

More recently, the two-year-old Westcoast Outbuildings modular structure production plant spiraled into bankruptcy, leaving a long list of unfinished projects and creditors throughout the province.

One Ocean Expeditions, the ambitious seafaring adventure tours company, also appears to be in turbulent waters.

Speaking of fiscal freefalls, it’s hard to tell how long cash-strapped Quest University will continue to operate in its present capacity or head down a different path.                                                                                                      

Moving right along here, the proponents of the interminably stalled Garibaldi at Squamish four-season mountain resort are now asking the province for a five-year extension on their environmental assessment certificate.

And Matthews Southwest, a developer behind the Newport Beach megaproject and the Cheekye Fan community development in Brackendale have locked horns in a legal dispute with a former partner over alleged funds owed and accusations of derogatory remarks made.                                                                                                                      

Across from Shannon Falls, the fate of the proposed Klahanie five-star hotel, restaurant and spa complex is still blowing in the Howe Sound wind. Farther west, as the crow flies, the controversial Woodfibre LNG project remains a work in progress.                                                                                                                 

To be fair, there are far more commercial success stories than failures in Squamish. And generally, there is a prevailing confident feeling in the business community. Still, too many ventures are finding the going tough and more than a few have folded. All that glitters, is not gold in Squamish.

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