Standing Up For Squamish

SusanMAINBy Susan Chapelle
Published: March 22, 2014

 

Last week, I attended a sustainability conference in Prince Edward Island. In communities all over Canada, people are grappling with the word.

I have come to understand that the only thing sustainable about “sustainability” is the rhetoric that comes with it.  

This conference infused hope. Held by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, a week of presentations, talks and collaboration between politicians, municipal staff, and change makers.  All in an effort to examine how municipal policies, or lack thereof, is affecting their communities.

Mayor Collette Roy-Laroche told of the tragic train crash in Lac Megantic.  We heard about the flooding in Alberta. We all felt that our communities could be next, and felt the pain of others going through preventable tragedy.

I reflected on Squamish’s current financial situation. The infrastructure deficit. The downloading of costs from the provinces to the municipalities. Derelict industries that have not survived globalization leaving residential as the primary tax income source. 

I returned to the West incredibly inspired. My husband met me at the airport, and put a flyer into my lap. It said “Banning Drive-thrus in Squamish? It’s a bad idea all around”.

Welcome back to sustainable rhetoric land. The poster read “Fact: A ban would hurt the less mobile.”  Talk about presenting a logical fallacy

The poster was a response to a motion that was put forward at council, to ban FUTURE drive-thrus. The intention was to preserve our limited land resource for high density and living wage jobs. It was never intended to ban currently existing drive-thru establishments.

Many communities have tried, but failed, to institute controls over stand alone drive-thru pads lining their communities. Not many have been able to stand up to the corporate lobby groups that spend their resources flying all over the countries protesting municipal land use policy.

It seems inappropriate to imply that seniors and mothers require more drive-thru facilities, when the issue is more access to an already accessible product. The protest sign on the flyer depicts “4 kids in a van. Blizzard”.  In that scenario, there are five existing drive-thrus, some open 24 hours to serve your needs.

Sustainability is about finding homeostasis within the environment and through land use. It is not about envisioning unlimited resources, which we do not have. We must move towards creating solutions where everything is on the table.  Where we collectively have a vision for how our community will be, in a changing economic, social and environmental climate.

We must consider our land a resource, as a place of local employment opportunities, an environment to be protected for future generations. To have progress, we must inevitably give up a little comfort for the greater good.

Comments

  1. Dave says:

    So a facility that is open for twenty four hours that happens to provide a Drive Thru facility is going to harm the businesses , say, downtown? ….NO!
    Are the businesses in downtown open for twenty four hours?…No , many of them can’t stay open after five and don’t open ’til ten going on eleven. Get real Susan.
    The existing Drive-Thrus do not harm businesses in our town in any significant way. Please go and “crusade” in a more needy scenario and leave us to make the choice to grab the odd cup of coffee etc. on the run when it, sometimes, is appropriate.!

    • Adam says:

      Hey Dave,
      Think you missed the point of the article. The author was suggesting that we don’t need more more drive thru establishments – not that we should close them all. I don’t think anyone who who feels they can’t take a minute or two to leave their car to get a coffee or ‘food’ would have any trouble doing that today. There are lots of options.

      Further, if you reread this, you’ll note the other thread which talks specifically about maximizing land use. Do we really want to build a fast food drive through that offers crappy low income jobs to our neighbours or would we rather build a business that provides living wages and more benefit to the community. Drive thru’s are typically occupied by companies that provide limited economic benefit while adding to costs that most of don’t (but should) think about….healthcare etc. The author is right that Squamish has one chance to get this right and we need to be thinking a little deeper than name calling. I for one don’t want Squamish to look like Surrey or Coquitlam and I don’t want my kid flipping burgers for minimum wage. I’d much prefer a town that provided real opportunity and there’s no reason this can’t be done.

  2. Dave says:

    Hey Adam.
    Think YOU missed the point of my comment. I doubt very much that there will be any further applications for new Drive-Thrus…the market will dictate this with no help from the “banners”. Land use restriction? Take a look at all the lots to the north of the McDonald complex and the Adventure Centre up to the beginning of the Industrial site and the RCMP station. What will be developed there?…. oh sorry,TRAILS…not exactly densification! Perhaps more Gas stations? No ban has been suggested for these, yet they render the land useless for decades of rehab. There is one area downtown that has sat as an idling eyesore for many years.
    Back to my comment’s point…I see nothing wrong with the choice that the present Drive-Thrus give. And your point about not having low paying jobs for the kids: They have a choice, they applied….and good for you if you have kids who are able to make choices too, to work at some of the quaint stores and businesses on Cleveland. But one wonders how much more they would be paid there! And, I agree that there is a need for more opportunity; and it can be done, in spite of the existing “evils” of the present Drive Thrus.
    Like I said, I rarely use them as I prefer more healthy food which can I get in many, many places here. Also I walk at least 3-4 miles each day as a small pert of my active lifestyle.
    Many of the patrons of Drive-Thrus are on their way to very active pursuits and have little time to linger in our little town but there are many others who do….try parking on Cleveland on an average day!

    • Adam says:

      Dave,

      Clearly lots of different threads here – no effective way to address them in this format without things degrading. That said, the one theme that we can agree on is that there indeed needs to be more opportunity for those in Squamish. Sure kids working in low wage jobs applied but as you’ve rightfully noted, they don’t currently have much choice. We need to provide real opportunity for those who wish to seek it out. Squamish isn’t going to eliminate fast food but there isn’t any compelling reason to make it easy for new establishments when we could place emphasis on more beneficial endeavours. Regarding gas stations, your point is very valid and simply highlights that there are no shortage of concerns shared by members of the community. Some are tougher to stomach than others but if nothing more, discussion and the exploration of ideas is what ultimately moves us forward.

  3. Brad says:

    Actually Adam I have heard from a number in the know that the way the bylaw was proposed an existing drive thru could be prevented from rebuilding. And I have heard the various proponents for this state plainly that they see this as part of a goal to rid us of fast food and save health dollars and so on. I sinply don’t believe this is purely about aesthetics, tourism dollars, etc. I think there is a real attempt afoot here, long term, to control people’s choices and I don’t agree that is any of Council’s mandate or business. And anyway, the community spoke pretty loudly at the meeting for this. Why don’t we respect their wishes?

  4. Rick says:

    And who paid for this trip?

  5. Adam says:

    Hey Brad,

    Many would say good. The fast food industry costs tax payers in North America billions of dollars via agricultural subsidies, public assistance for workers and healthcare costs. There is very little good associated with the business of these giant corporations and if, as a community we opted not to support this I’d be 100% OK with it. In short, I don’t see it as controlling choice if the majority of the population says we choose not to have this. A choice HAS been made, not rescinded. Of course, the majority might not be of this mindset but as we become more educated as consumers and aware of the business practices of fast food and begin to understand the far reaching health implications, it really is just a matter of time before logic prevails.

    Regarding the people who spoke loudly at the meeting you referenced. I’d suggest that group is dwarfed by the electorate who voted for Mayor and Council. This doesn’t mean that their concerns should be dismissed but their demands don’t supersede the mandate that a far greater percentage of Squamish gave to our elected officials – based in large part on their ideology.

    All of the above said, I appreciate your thoughts and more than anything else your efforts to ignite discussion…..thanks for that.

    • Brad says:

      “Many would say good. The fast food industry costs tax payers in North America billions of dollars via agricultural subsidies, public assistance for workers and healthcare costs. ”

      All food production involves varying degrees of subsidy. Fast food stores are usually owned by local investors, and they employ a lot of people. And the idea that they are responsible for even a majority of our health care costs is false. They are just the latest straw man for a complex issue.

      “In short, I don’t see it as controlling choice if the majority of the population says we choose not to have this.”

      Exactly. But we have had no referendum on this. Drive-thru bans weren’t mentioned in any of the current Councillor’s platforms. There is simply no mandate to do this. The number of people showing up at a Council meeting on the issue is not definitive, but it’s a good indication. If a majority of us out there are pro drive-thru ban (and I contend that they are not), they didn’t bother showing up, and that’s the only vote that counts.

      “Regarding the people who spoke loudly at the meeting you referenced. I’d suggest that group is dwarfed by the electorate who voted for Mayor and Council.”

      Yes.. that kind of goes without saying.

      “This doesn’t mean that their concerns should be dismissed but their demands don’t supersede the mandate that a far greater percentage of Squamish gave to our elected officials – based in large part on their ideology.”

      No, that’s not what happened. In 2011 we had 26 candidates and a whole variety of mess when it came to platforms. The mandate, if there was one, was to improve the economy. That was the one subject everyone consistently talked about. Not one Councillor to my recollection crossed the 50% threshold of total votes cast. The bottom three were much less than that. There’s no mandate for this kind of thing at all implied in the voting patterns. If those advocating a ban really cared, they could insist the issue be put to a vote among the wider community. But I don’t think they want to do that. I don’t think they’d like what they hear.