By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: May 3, 2014
When the Skookum Creek power project proponents came before the Squamish council two years ago, councillors reluctantly agreed to support the project.
But their support, they made clear, depended on two conditions.
First, the proponents should seek support from Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association (SORCA), Squamish Dirt Bike Association, and the Squamish Paddling Club.
Second, councillors wanted the proponent to support District of Squamish boundary expansion, enabling the district to expand its tax base.
The proponents agreed to that condition, but have yet to hear from the District of Squamish.
“We supported it, but now it’s up to the district to apply for an expansion,” said Rick Hopp, a spokesperson for the company.
The company pays taxes to the province—approx $600,000—but there are without any services being provided.
Even though boundary expansion is a technical and lengthy process, the prize is more taxes, a reward even more lucrative when there is no obligation to provide services.
It’s been two years, but the district has yet to apply to the province for an expansion.
The district has not expressed any formal intent to take in the Skookum IPP into its boundaries, said district spokesperson Christina Moore.
It’s because the province had indicated a few years ago that they were not interested in entertaining any boundary expansion requests. Coun. Patricia Heintzman said boundary expansion is a long process.
“You can’t simply decide and it happens,” she said.
The process also takes a lot of staff time and the district has to budget it and then add to the work plan. With the number of projects either partially within or near our boundary, the district will initiate a more holistic approach soon, Moore said.
Priodically the district reviews these types of expansions, and is hoping to initiate a boundary expansion review later this year, she added.
The last boundary expansion was dated June 21, 2002 to take in the area commonly known as the Northern Utilities area, which brought in the Mamquam Power Project, she added.
Exploring strategic district boundary expansions is listed as one of the district’s top priority in 2014.