By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Sept. 9, 2012
A Vancouver developer’s plan to lift restrictions on his property above Garibaldi Highlands received support from a former Squamish councillor.
Former Squamish councillor Paul Lalli came before the council and spoke in support of lifting population restrictions on the land formerly known as the Merril & Ring lands.
Bob Cheema owns 450 acres of underdeveloped mixed-forest hillside north of Garibaldi Highlands and west of Mashiter Creek.
According to the Squamish Official Community Plan (OCP), the future expansion into this land, also known as lot 509 and 510, can only be considered once the population reaches a minimum of 22,500.
At the regular council meeting last Tuesday, Sept. 4, the council asked staff to investigate the possibility of a North road link to the property.
Paul Lalli didn’t return calls for comment, but the project certainly has sympathisers in the council.
In a July council meeting, Coun. Race and Sander had both voted in support of removing restrictions on the property.
Coun. Race said the existence of a population restriction is unfair because it’s the only property in the district subject to this restriction.
“Lifting the restriction will allow the property owner to submit a development proposal just like any other property owner,” he said.
“Whether the proposal succeeds in a rezoning or not is not decided and any proposal would be considered on its merits. Whether or not we have enough housing stock is a matter for the market to determine.”
Coun. Patricia Heintzman, Susan Chappelle, and Ted Prior voted against lifting the restriction.
Heintzman said she believes the restriction should not be taken off the land at this time, particularly for the entire lands.
She said it might be worth considering lifting the ban on a small portion of the land for an access to the Highlands, but the transportation analyses needs to be done, which staff has been directed to do.
She said the road will be built by the developer, not the district.
“We need to determine if north road satisfies our present and future highlands access needs. The developer would build the road as part of the development.”
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.
A three per cent growth means population threshold of 22,500 would be reached in five years.