After writing a letter to District of Squamish refusing to support Cheema Lands development if trails on the private property are not preserved and asking the district to secure the trails for the future prior to the OCP redesignation and sub-area planning process, Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association (SORCA) has now issued a statement claiming their submission to the district was taken out of context.
That’s an accusation of misreporting which is totally false and rather brazen given the fact that anyone can read the SORCA letter linked to the report by Squamish Reporter and find out the truth.
“SORCA wants to ensure that the collaborative relationship we have with the Cheema family is clear, that portions of our submission to the District have been being taken out of context and that it is not our intention to appear to be opposed to the Cheema’s development proposal,” the group said in its statement issued after report by Squamish Reporter about the letter.
Anyone who reads SORCA’s submission to the district can see clearly that nothing was taken out of context in the story published by the Squamish Reporter two days ago. Nor was the headline inappropriate.
In the letter to the district, the president of SORCA, Jeffery Norman, makes it crystal-clear that SORCA won’t provide support for any development proposal without the trails being preserved.
Under the heading, ‘SORCA’s position on redesignation of District Lots 509 and 510’, Norman writes:
“We cannot provide support for any proposal to proceed down the path to development of District Lots 509 and 510 without certainty on preservation of the trail network, including the trails themselves, as well as the character of the trails and surrounding forest.”
Is there anything in the letter that goes against the above portion of the letter? Nothing.
In fact, Norman writes that SORCA believes that residential development would be inappropriate on lands that has such iconic trails.
“It would be inappropriate, in our view, to designate lands that contain such iconic trails as slated for Residential Neighbourhood development,” he writes.
Later, Norman goes on to write that ideally SORCA would have liked the proponent to sever the lands containing trails from the District Lots 509 and 510.
“Ideally SORCA would have liked to have had the proponent sever the lands containing the trail network and surrounding forest from District Lots 509 and 510, with only the lands proposed for development made subject to its OCP redesignation proposal (and the lands containing the trails protected with a conservation covenant),” Norman writes.
In the letter he also copied to the district planners, he says this is an opportunity for the district to secure portions of the land for future use.
“That said, we remain of the opinion that the OCP amendments requested by the Proponent, and the commencement of the sub-area planning process while the lands are still subject to the extraordinary community benefit criterion, could provide a valuable opportunity for the District to secure this portion of the Squamish trail network for the future.”
Towards the end, Normal writes about a recreation master plan that SORCA is working on that includes trails on Lots 509 and 510.
“As part of the Master Plan, we are undertaking a comprehensive inventory of the existing recreational trails in the Squamish catchment area, including on District Lots 509 and 510. This inventory will identify a more refined boundary of the lands that need to be preserved to ensure the viability and character of the trail network on the Cheema Lands. The trail inventory will feed into the District’s brand asset inventory and should serve both trail users and the proponent well,” he writes.
Last month, developer Bob Cheema applied to change two Official Community Plan land-use designations from Future Residential Neighbourhood to Residential Neighbourhood for Lot 509 and 510. If approved by council, the change would allow for the initiation of a neighbourhood planning process to enable future development on the property.
SORCA has been collaborating with Cheema Lands developer for a long time who has continued to offer unhindered access to trails on his private property for decades.
Read the full letter here.