An open letter from longtime Squamish resident Bob Brant.
Mayor, Mayor & Council, CAO, GM Planning and Planning Staff,
I am writing this open letter because I’m very concerned about the decisions being made and the direction being taken by the current Council and Administration. I have no confidence that there is any overarching vision that reflects the soul of Squamish, that reflects who we are. Decisions appear to be made in isolation. Densification throughout our community appears to be the order of the day without considering the cumulative effects of such growth. Squamish lacks an overall district-wide transportation plan, including a crucial plan for a second exit to and from an already crowded downtown.
The district moves to approve high rise buildings in our downtown and moves to densify our neighbourhoods are tearing asunder the nature and qualities that we love about Squamish, leaving residents disillusioned and angry.
Equally concerning is that all this development is being approved and built ahead of improving our infrastructure capable of serving the hundreds upon hundreds of new people added to our community and that is already pushed to its infrastructure capacity and limits.
Is there really a vision for Squamish? If there is, I am sad to say, no one I know knows what it is. So, who is really pulling the strings? Is it staff? Is it the Mayor? Is it Council? Is it the out-of-town investor? Whoever it is, it is not home grown!
I am seeing a growing discontent because Squamish citizens – the people you represent and who staff work for – do not feel that Council is reflecting the true nature of where most of our community wants to us to go.
I am speaking as someone who has lived in Squamish for over forty years and has contributed over twenty-five years of volunteer service to various community endeavours. Squamish is home for me and my family. I love Squamish.
I am not making these observations lightly. I appreciate that the Mayor, Council and staff have a difficult job given the many demands placed on them. And I can’t even begin to contemplate the complexities brought into the mix by provincial and federal governance regulations. However, my concerns for the integrity and future of our community lead me to offer these observations and suggestions
WE NEED A DISTRICT-WIDE TRAFFIC PLAN NOW!
- We are not the West End. We don’t want to be the West End.
- There is not a neighbourhood that is not now faced with a cluster-muck of grid-lock in some form or manner
- By approving and piling more and more high-rise people into downtown and Hunter Place, the Mayor, Council, Planning and the developers seem to be putting people in danger!
Squamish is now faced with gridlock situations at times in all our neighbourhoods. Accessing and exiting Hwy 99 is problematic. And nowhere is traffic congestion more of a problem than downtown. We have not planned, nor are we prepared for, the density & growth we have.
I think it can be considered morally suspect that we/the District and developers are going ahead adding thousands more people and vehicles into our downtown area when there is only one entrance and exit for the area. I’m sure Mayor, Council, CAO , GM Planning and Planning are aware of the fire disaster that struck Lytton and this must, at the very least, be a concern for you and the developers as you continue to add crazy amounts of people and vehicles into the downtown and Hunter Place areas where entry and exit is severely restricted. Not to mention be very dangerous in a worst-case scenario. Please. Let’s take a breath.
There needs to be a district-wide traffic master plan undertaken to ensure the safety of Squamish residents.
• Mayor and Council needs to pass a motion that puts any development proposals for projects over four stories on hold until a district-wide master traffic plan is completed.
• This district-wide traffic master plan must be resident- and Squamish business- centric, with open, inclusive and extensive resident and business owner input.
Here are some initial suggestions:
- Create an additional entrance/exit for downtown by formalizing and upgrading the “emergency service road” past the old BCR yards as an official road. It should be noted that this route was the original highway years ago.
- Adjust the Mamquam Rd. and Garibaldi Way lane turning south onto Highway 99 into two lanes.
- Fast track the third access routes for Valleycliffe, the Highlands and Brackendale.
- Create a traffic circle at the Dowad-Highway 99 intersection to facilitate the third Highlands and Brackendale access routes.
- Create a traffic circle at the Alice Lake-Highway 99 intersection.
Squamish is my home and has given much to my family and me. I offer these ideas to help further the discussion of how we can remain a beautiful, vibrant community, that reflects our collective nature. Given the pressures of our modern world, this takes vision, open dialogue and careful planning. I question whether our community values truly are reflected in the decisions that this Council and staff are making. Sadly, it appears that we are being overwhelmed by growth foisted upon us by outside investors and welcomed by our current Mayor, Council and Planning.
While many of these ideas may not be new to you, I do hope they offer some guidance to creating a Squamish we can all enjoy, one that reflects who we are and how we want to grow.
Thank you for your time.