Squamish has faced unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Known around the world for our rock climbing, windsurfing, mountain biking and hiking trails – people move here for a lifestyle of adventure, and a small town feel. 

But our community has been changing – dramatically. 5 generations of my family made their living right here in Squamish, working at the old Woodfibre pulp mill. We’ve all watched as Squamish went from a small community of people working mostly in the forestry and mining sectors to a bustling tourism (and aspiring clean tech) hub. 

Some of the change has been great for us longtime residents. I, for one, appreciate the increasing diversity of culture, background, perspective and vocation that we are gaining with new neighbours. At the same time, I suspect a lot of my fellow Squamish residents would agree that Squamish is experiencing some growing pains. 

An exploding population comes with a bit of heartburn: tighter access to local amenities like recreational facilities and parking, skyrocketing housing costs, and limited job opportunities.

There are new worries too. My great grandparents and grandparents didn’t need to think about whether their kids would be able to find work here when they grew up. But as a brand new dad myself, I’m starting to wonder if the 6th generation of Drygas’s will be able to build a career and raise a family here. I’m saddened by the thought that my kids might not be able to afford to live here. Where are the stable, high-salary, skilled jobs that Squamish used to count on?

These problems aren’t entirely new. They’ve been creeping up on us for awhile now. In fact, they’re the reason why I started the Yes to LNG Squamish Facebook group 8 years ago. Since that time, I’ve realized that the solutions to our community’s problems need more than just one LNG plant. Our entire economy is badly in need of a boost. We need to attract higher-paying jobs across a variety of sectors. That’s how we’ll afford to stay here, and know our kids can too. So what can I do about it? In conversations with friends and colleagues, we agreed that those of us who see our community growing, but find that we’re struggling to keep pace, need a forum to share stories and hear what others are thinking. 

We’re coming out of COVID, we have a federal election on the horizon and a municipal election in about a year. If we want to make our community better, the time is now.

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This is especially important right now. We’re coming out of COVID, we have a federal election on the horizon and a municipal election in about a year. If we want to make our community better, the time is now. 

And so, a group of us have launched Squamish Forward. You’ll see their stories over the next few weeks and months, right here on this website – but make sure you also sign up for our email newsletter and follow our Facebook and Twitter where we will share additional content and have an interactive conversation about our community.

Kind of like a magazine where everyone gets to be an editor, Squamish Forward is a forum where we can talk about the Squamish we want for our kids. We’re asking you the question: how do we move this community forward? Got ideas? Send us your essay to i[email protected] and we may run it on our page.

Welcome, and please consider sharing our page with anyone else you know who agrees.

For our kids
For our families
For each other
A Squamish For Everyone:
Squamish Forward

The Author

  • Evan Drygas

    Evan Drygas is the creator of the Squamish Forward initiative. The success of Squamish is especially important to him as a fifth-generation Squamish resident. Evan wants to ensure that his family can continue to grow in step with the growth of our community.

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