By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: May 4, 2013
Land developers are worried a district policy change will restrict their ability to align development to the town’s economy.
The council recently debated a motion, and rejected a motion to restrict extensions to a maximum of 36 months, once the development permit had been granted.
Developers are concerned such a policy, if implemented, wouldn’t take into consideration the adverse market conditions that force developers to ask for such extensions in the first place.
Mike Bosa, vice-president of Solterra, recently wrote to the council saying his company is ‘extremely concerned’ with the proposed changes.
“The extensions requested by Solterra are solely due to market conditions,” he said.
“We are keen and committed to the Squamish economy, but the recent sales activity does not support the multi-million dollar investments.”
He said the price to achieve a development permit is substantial, and failure to extend the permit will wipe away the investment.
Similar is the tone and contents of a letter the district received from the Urban Development Institute (UDI).
“Unfortunately, the market is still not strong in Squamish, and this has resulted in project delays,” says the letter, exhorting the council to not restrict extensions on development permits.
“Ironically, the policy may result in further delays in projects and the employment they bring,” writes the CEO of UDI, Anne McMullin.
In the past two years, a steady stream of commercial and residential developers have asked the council to renew or extend development permits.
Councillors have reluctantly done so.
In October last year, Parkview, a 65-unit residential project at 1150, Bailey Street was given an extension.
In April, the council voted unanimously to grant an extension to Diamond Head Land Company for their property located north-west of the intersection of Westway Ave and Plateau Drive in Valleycliffe.
In January this year, a development permit given to Ramada Inn was granted a one-year extension in January.
A development permit for the 81-room Ramada Inn hotel was first approved by the council in 2008.
Similarly, the development permit for property located on 38044 on Second Ave was granted a one-year extension.
Similar requests have come before the council in 2011.
In the recent council meeting, district staff also proposed a maximum extension for five years, but those revisions have not yet been made.
“These changes are within the upcoming work program for staff ,” said district planner, Chris Bishop.
Coun. Ted Prior said it was a wrong approach to limit extensions on development permit. The best way to deal with it would be to take up the extensions on a case by case basis.