Official Community Plan review
Public should have more of a say in our future vision
Squamish council deserves congratulations for putting a halt to the proposed rezoning of Angelo's Trailer Park at its meeting Tuesday.
Not that it was the most difficult decision council has ever had to make. Voting to allow dozens of residents to be evicted from their homes with dim future prospects would be like voting against motherhood.
It's important to note that this is not a Hollywood-style story of a big, bad developer out to plunder the town. The owners of the trailer park in question have every right to try to maximize the value of their property - and with the explosion of residential development and the costs of maintaining aging infrastructure, rezoning may make sense. But, as council properly recognized this week, that needs to happen in step with development of affordable housing options.
Unfortunately, council's new plan to explore those options on the Cheekye Fan is one more step in shaping our community's vision without extensive community input. Squamish is undergoing massive growth and change without a clearly defined, community-driven vision for what it wants to look like.
There is a process for shaping that vision: it's called an Official Community Plan (OCP). The problem is, the most current version of it was adopted in 1998 - at a time when Squamish's waterfront was industrial, when a house in the Highlands went for under $200,000 and when David Strangway was looking at Nelson or Whistler to house his private university.
The majority of our current council signed on to a campaign document that stated they would "Implement a Comprehensive Development Plan to guide and facilitate growth in Squamish over the next 20 years." Sounds a lot like an OCP to us.
The wheels are supposedly turning - the District created a Select Committee on OCP review at the beginning of this council's mandate. But it hasn't reported to council in months. With the summer season fast approaching and then an election campaign in the fall, it's clear that the kind of major and meaningful community consultation that an OCP requires won't be happening this year.
By the time we get around to updating our lame duck OCP, what will be left to define? The Business Park, downtown, the waterfront, the university and perhaps even the Cheekye Fan will all be spoken for.
Council should let the public know when it plans to take the OCP process public - soon. The ballot box shouldn't be the only place where we get to shape our future.