By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: July 28, 2012
Paradise Trail proponents have lashed out at the district of Squamish, singling out the planning manager, Chris Bishop, for failing to acknowledge the proponents had satisfied all conditions for fourth reading.
District of Squamish planning staff has remained steadfast in their opposition to the Paradise Trails, and Tuesday’s council meeting was no different.
Paradise Trails is an equestrian-themed community at the northern most boundary of the district in the Paradise Valley, but the proponents say the experiences they have had with the district have bee rather hellish.
“While the manager of planning told us verbally a number of times in the past few days that we have met all conditions, his report is silent on the matter,” proponent Michael Goodman said in a media release.
“We’re very disappointed.”
Chris Bishop is on vacation until Aug. 7.
Christie Smith, the district communication manager, said the district is ‘continuing to work diligently’ with the applicant to to move his file forward.
That sentiment of disappointment, however, is mutual.
The staff didn’t mince words on why they felt this wasn’t the right development for Squamish.
“The subject lands are prone to flooding, hold high wildfire risk, and have a single access route,” the staff mentioned.
Although an extensive hazard management study has been undertaken, mitigation work remains outstanding.
Besides, the staff noted, the development didn’t conform to the Smart Growth principles, and OCP guidelines.
The Paradise Trails application first came before the district on February 2007, and was vehemently opposed by the staff on grounds that it runs counter to district policies on growth and development.
Still, it made up to the third reading on Oct. 2008, but has been stalled ever since, with the developers alleging inaction and red tap at the district.
In an interview with the Chief last year, Michael Goodman had suggested the delay had cost him $1.5 million, in addition to the original investment of $6.5 million.
Still, the district staff has held steadfast to the opinion that the development does not ‘fit well’ in this location.
The planning staff feels that if approved the development will have implications for road and dike maintenance, solid waste services, and bylaw service patrols including bear and other wildlife activities.
“In the future as these systems reach their operational lifespans, the District may be lobbied to assist or take over the ownership and operation of these systems,” the report says.
Goodman, however, feels the report is a failure of process which we intend to discuss this with district officials. Although the decision on the fourth reading was deferred to September, it is clear planning dept doesn’t like the project.
“We would like to know, is Squamish really ready to bury its past and move on?