Squamish 2035: Build for the Future, Not the Past

Editor’s NOTE: Taken from the special print issue of the Squamish Reporter charting the town’s future, this article by Jayson Faulkner  presents his vision on Tourism.

jaysonBy Jayson Faulkner
Published: Feb 5, 2015

 

The listing by the New York Times as one of the 52 places in the world to visit in 2015 is the most recent in the growing recognition of what we already know. And as the word has spread, it is clear to most of us, that tourism is Squamish’s best and brightest future.

So what does the future of tourism in 20 years from now look like? Well that depends on many things. Not the least of course is what the community leadership has a vision for. But let’s assume a few things are done over the next two decades:

–          increased commitment supporting tourism infrastructure

–          stay focused on complimentary, congruent business and development that supports and enriches a tourism attraction

–          avoid heavy industry projects like the plague or anything for that matter that undermines the “nature” of this place

–          use contemporary planning principles of density and massing for better projects

In other words, don’t do the things that undermine a recreation based, tourism based, healthy, sustainable community. Build for the future, not the past.

In 20 years, Squamish will be thriving. It will be recognized throughout North America if not most of the G20 countries as a must “go to” place when visiting Vancouver. Many people will come just to stay in Squamish as the base of their holiday. They will come for the spectacular waterfront development that has world renowned views at the end of a famous fjord. The Sea to Sky Gondola will have incredible mountain bike trails that feed into Britannia offering 3000 ft of descent into another thriving tourism destination that has a marina, booming housing market and quaint village. The gondola will also have very well developed hiking trail system that is considered one of the best hiking destinations in Western North America.

Look forward: The new kite surfing complex at the spit is now in place offering a clubhouse, patio and deck in addition to the new waterfront launch at Daryl Bay that offers even easier access to the water. Squamish has become a waterfront community that lives and plays as much in the water as it does in the mountains.

The mountain bike trail system is now considered the largest community trail network in the world. It was built by volunteers in partnership with local government and business. The mountain bike industry has come in with both feet to be part of this infrastructure as many of the major brands now have product development offices here, satellite business for the new recreation economy.

Squamish also has a whitewater park designated along the Mamquam, a fly fishing park designated along the Squamish and Elaho. There are now five campgrounds throughout the valley offering recreationalists first class camping experiences in the BC wilds. There has been continued development in the upper Squamish and Elaho valleys. Trails, forestry campgrounds and places for people to visit and enjoy outside a bit more rustic.

 

Slowly but surely the bed and breakfast community has developed alongside increased hotel operations. The impact of online services like Air B&B has exploded and embracing this reality, it has become part of a solution to Squamish’s challenge of having enough beds and places for people to stay.

The Sea to Sky highway has multiple stops and attractions enroute as Britannia had its development and Fury Creek community was put together, but also there are now enhanced services at Porteau and Sunset Marina. Sewells Marina has daily boat tours coming up Howe Sound to watch the whales that have come back in significant numbers as the herring have continued to recover after the decisions to stop Burnco, the Woodfibre natural gas plant and the incinerator at Port Mellon when the pulp mill shut down due to lack of wood fibre supply.

Howe Sound has been declared a national park, both terrestrial and aquatic and the new park has the support and protection of the Federal Government for continued tourism development and support. It has been heralded as one of the crown jewels of the national park system and the largest national park adjacent to a major city anywhere in North America.

Squamish has become the canyoneering capital of North America, with tour operators offering dozens of tours of lengths and difficulty.  The First Nations community is engaged in all of the community enhancements. They have several businesses servicing the tourism marketplace, both as tour operators, service providers, their own stores, restaurants etc. They are an engaged value added partner in the tourism industry.

Real estate prices have been high and unfortunately for some higher than what affordability would suggest, but the municipality saw this coming and engaged the developers to make sure that they build affordable housing for Squamish’s working people so they could live and raise their families here too.

It has been an amazing 20 years to see the city come into its own. And it’s better than anyone thought possible.

Comments

  1. Rick says:

    Wow. Ya gotta get me a pair of them Rose Colored Glasses. Mine seem to be covered with bark dust,rain drops and a film of carbon.