On the twilight of Squamish’s current council, outgoing politicians met with the newly elected to dispense some final words of advice during their last day of meetings.
Some of it was particularly relevant in a town where the breakneck pace of development has become the top issue for many.
“Your zoning bylaw is what gets built, not the pretty picture,” said Coun. Susan Chapelle on Oct. 23.
It was a cautionary statement about development proposals and rezoning, where the ideas presented aren’t always what ends up getting built.
“I look at Loggers Lane,” she continued. “It’s just a cement wall all the way down now because I didn’t think about what the interface was going to be — because the picture that was shown to me was this massively landscaped interface, but now it’s just a parking lot all the way down.”
Mayor Patricia Heintzman agreed with Chapelle’s warning.
“A developer will come in with an intention, and say, ‘This is what I want to build,’ but there’s no guarantee that they’ll be building,” said Heintzman. “A private property owner can always sell their property.”
Aside from giving pointers on the development process, outgoing councillors explained the other minutiae related to governing. This included the intricacies of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and the feasibility of regional transit, among other things.
Some advice wasn’t so centred around specific policy.
“Do put up your hand and look stupid,” joked Coun. Ted Prior, to laughter in the room.
“There’s no bad questions.”
New councillors John French, Armand Hurford, Jenna Stoner and Eric Andersen were present during the meeting.
Chris Pettingill was absent due to a vote recount that was looking to verify whether he beat Sacha Fabry by a hair-splitting margin of two votes.
Of the old guard Heintzman, Chapelle, Prior, Doug Race, and Karen Elliott were present. However, Elliott and Race will be returning. The former will take the mayor’s chair while the latter will resume his role as a councillor.
Outgoing councillors Peter Kent and Jason Blackman-Wulff weren’t at the meetings, as they have moved out of Squamish, Heintzman said.
Later in the afternoon, the outgoing politicians took the chance to summarize what they felt were the highlights of their times in office.
Some paid each other and the District staff generous compliments, while listing various initiatives they felt proud of.
“It’s one of the most diverse and compellingly interesting jobs you’ll ever have,” said Heintzman.
“You will get down in the mud on something as basic as potholes. You will be up at the very high end of comprehensive complex policy issues and complex negotiations and relationship building. It’s really a very fulfilling thing to do — to serve your community.”