By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Aug. 25, 2012
A Vancouver based developer wants Squamish to remove restrictions on future residential development on land he owns above Garibaldi Highlands.
Bob Cheema owns lots 509 and 510, which is 450 acres of underdeveloped mixed-forest hillside north of Garibaldi Highlands and west of Mashiter Creek.
Documents obtained by the Reporter show Cheema wrote to the district this February, asking them to remove the current population thresholds which restrict plan for the lands.
According to the Squamish Official Community Plan (OCP), the future expansion into lots 509 and 510 can only be considered once the population reaches a minimum of 22,500.
Cheema refused to comment on any aspect of his proposal to the district, but confirmed that he owned the property.
Formerly owned by Merrill & Ring Canadian Properties Inc., they were identified as one of four future Sub‐Area Plan locations in the OCP.
A sub-area plan is required for consideration of any future development.
The lots in question are further subject to phasing criteria and the population threshold that currently restricts area planning to guide the sequence and timing of future development.
Cheema says the OCP policy is not in the best interest of the community.
It has, he says, placed an artificial constraint on local housing prices and stock-restricting the district ability to ensure a healthy supply of affordable housing.
He has a plan: He can prepare a sub-are plan for a broad range of housing, amenities and facilities for community benefit.
He wants to proceed with the initial phases of development encompassing a portion of the lands.
The 1998 OCP earmarked the area north of Garibaldi Estates as one of the two major residential growth areas and the location of the future potential school site.
It was in 1998 that the district first identified population thresholds of 20,000 and 30,000 to focus on population-based land use and servicing requirements.
Approximately 2,700 new dwelling units were projected for the Garibaldi Highlands area to accommodate the population to 30,000. The threshold was changed to 22,500, a population projection the district estimates would be reached in a decade or so.
The district wants to focus on future growth in downtown, and other underutilized or brownfield sites, and in neighbourhoods that are contiguous to the existing services urban areas.
In its report, staff said the removal of population threshold for both lots is a significant OCP amendment, given the importance of are planning and development phasing within the overall growth management strategy.
The staff recommended that council apply existing OCP area plan phasing criteria and defer further considerations of an amendment.
The district wants to complete and review community population, and employment projections, update its inventory.