Of Risks and Rewards in Squamish

NateMAINBy Nate Dolha
Published: July 19, 2014

 

Six years ago, we arrived in Squamish to live the good life. When investigating which community we would be calling home, one of the draws was the potential the oceanfront lands held for the future of the community. All the ingredients were there; the new highway was going in, the Olympics were on the horizon, and there seemed to be a definite buzz in the air. Then it happened…

Pop!

The bubble popped, and equity evaporated for many over the next few months. Construction slowed, the housing market went cold, and many projects never made it off the drawing board. The vision many in the community had for the oceanfront seemed as distant as it ever had, and for many, that barren brownfield became a symbol of missed opportunity. A stark reminder of the realities facing our community.

Fast forward to today, and it would seem that we are on the verge of realizing the potential this community holds. Our Real Estate market is warming, there is new construction all over town, a trickle of jobs starting to form, and finally the oceanfront seems to be headed towards shovels in the ground. Some folks are downright bullish, sensing a coming boom and preparing for the windfall. For others, there is a bit of deja vu…

For what it’s worth, I believe the sitting council did a decent job of getting it’s (our) act together. In the last election, there was certainly a perception that we were a community closed for business, and a haven for insiders. In that regard, council has moved much more predictably towards business and that perception has begun to fade, even if the smell still lingers a bit.

Which brings us to the looming sale of our oceanfront…

For the next council, I have a bit of a wish list. While I’m glad we are moving forward with the oceanfront development, there are many answers the District of Squamish council should be seeking and sharing with the public. First, a much deeper look at how $11.5 million of debt was incurred by the SODC. Not which pile it falls in, but for what value in return.

And finally, a full and willing accounting of the actual costs of this adventure (including District of Squamish staff time), and what risk and / or benefit the ongoing 25% interest in the SODC holds for the rate payer. This, friends, should be on the minds of the voter when the candidate comes calling this fall, as it was your money being spent.

After all, fastest way to clear a lingering smell is to open the doors.

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