On Taicheng, Political Narratives Diverge Sharply

taicheng-MAIN

An artists rendering of the Taicheng development.

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: July 27, 2013

If time is money, as developers are fond of saying, then Taicheng is going to lose more of both.

At a Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting on July 17, SLRD voted to scope the development through Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) by Sept. 30.

Area D Director Maurice Freitag and Susie Gimse were the only two of the nine SLRD board member who opposed the motion.

Adopted in 2010, RGS is a policy framework to decide growth and long-term planning issues over a 20-year period in the region.

RGS examines development on issues such as land use, transportation, housing, economic development, social issues, ecological stewardship, parks and natural areas, etc.

Taicheng will make history as the first development to undergo a RGS process ever since the strategy was adopted in 2010 by Whistler, Squamish, Lillooet, and Pemberton.

Is it fair that Taicheng be made to jump through the RGS hoop?

Is it a fair process to filter it through RGS, or is it an attempt to delay Taicheng to buy time for a competing project (read SODC)?

Well, it depends on whom you ask that question.

And therein lies the problem.

Mayor Kirkham was the one who brought forward the motion to process Taicheng through Regional Growth Strategy.

Why did he do it?

Call it the mayor’s mystery.

Despite three reminders, he didn’t respond to questions on why he introduced the motion.

Perhaps His Worship was so busy tackling the $9.4 million SODC debt he didn’t have time to look at the questions.

But his reticence only adds to confusion.

And it centers on this: Taicheng proponents say SLRD staff sought legal opinion on the matter last year, and were told the Taicheng development satisfied RGS requirements.

“Our sense is that it conforms to RGS…in fact it’s the only development that has ever conformed to the RGS,” said Ron Lea, a spokesperson for Taicheng.

Lea said the staff had already sought a legal opinion and got an answer confirming that yes, indeed, the project confirms with RGS.  

Lea said filtering the project through RGS will delay it, and that delay may just go beyond the end of September.    

“This is certainly delaying our project in moving forward.” Ron Lea said.

Area D representative, Maurice Freitag, is disappointed, if not entirely surprised.

Freitag criticized what he called the ‘drawbridge mentality’ of Squamish and Whistler councilors for delaying projects that compete with projects in their own towns.

“A number of projects have come here and gotten delayed and financially crippled to the point where they just didn’t move forward,” he said.

He fears that if left to the regional governments, Taicheng may face the same fate.

“Two municipalities have spoken against it for no greater reasons than to protect what isn’t happening in their own communities.” Maurice Freitag.

According to SLRD director and Squamish councillor Patricia Heintzman, the reality is far less simplistic.

Heintzman voted in favour of the motion to submit Taicheng to a RGS review.

She said thousands of units are being planned in the region, and the board is simply trying to understand the ramifications of such a major project as Taicheng.

“What does it mean for market absorption, what does it mean for job creation, transportation, etc, in the corridor” she said.

“We won’t be doing our duty if we didn’t analyze it.”

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Dave says:

    Go ahead Patricia et al; analyze it to death….like so many other projects which have come our way in the past. You seem to be good at this!
    The way things are going it looks like what you are trying to protect (e.g. SODC) might not become a reality either. And we will keep paying out money for more “white elephants” that grind to a halt. It seems that blame can only be laid at what doesn’t happen, not what might or could happen. I am not sure which is better or worse.