District of Squamish has responded to what it says it misinformation that was mailed to residents.
Squamish residents have received a postcard from a group identifying as Squamish Voices about three recently covered shelters. District says the fliers contain ‘misinformation.’
The postcard infers that the structures were funded by local property tax revenue, whereas this is not the case, district says.
District says the shelters were funded by the BC COVID-19 Restart Grant, a Provincial grant provided to municipalities to pay for expenditures that were related to the COVID-19 recovery.
The postcard also compares costs of a covered structure that could accommodate a dozen or more people to a transit shelter.
District says while it generally does not to respond to anonymous attacks, the far-reaching nature of this tactic has prompted them to do so.
“We make every effort to provide our citizens with transparent and accessible information in an open and forthcoming manner, and we stand publicly accountable for our decisions rather than hiding behind an anonymous screen,” says District of Squamish Mayor Karen Elliott.
“These statements are simply untrue and I hope that residents will take some time to seek out the full story and seriously question the cowardice and motive of this anonymous person or group. Through Coffee with Council, Mayor’s Drop-In, our attendance at virtual and in-person events and email correspondence, Council always welcomes the opportunity to speak with and hear the various perspectives of our community.”
District of Squamish has issued the following facts:
The shelters were built to allow people to safely gather outdoors and under cover in public spaces. A growing need for this type of shelter became apparent during the pandemic when gathering outdoors was safer than indoors;
Wet winters and hot, dry summers make these an ongoing community asset for year-round use.
Residents are utilizing the space, from buskers to families hosting picnics, birthday parties, playdates and friends sharing a coffee.
District says the construction costs of the shelters increased due to several factors:
A 40% rise in lumber prices during the COVID-19 period.
Structural and geotechnical engineers were required to sign off on the structures to comply with Building Code.
The structures were made using galvanized connection bolts to withstand the sea (salt) air and to minimize need for future maintenance costs.
Staff undertook the standard government bids and tenders process and ended up with a local Squamish-based contractor (the lowest bid).
Here are some additional district notes on transit shelters (the comparison used by Squamish Voices):
The $17,270 cost of a transit structure (identified in the postcard) does not include delivery, site preparation or concrete (footings and floor).
A similar shelter in Squamish (outside the library) was listed as $17,270 by BC Transit but came to $36,750 once all costs were factored in (though the District only pays 20% of this or $7,348 due to cost sharing with BC Transit).
The transit shelters are mass produced through the BC Transit program.