Squamish council hears development concerns 

Two public hearings cover downtown and drive-through concerns

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Squamish could soon have a CIBC bank branch, a second Tim Horton's outlet and a new home for the Sea to Sky Community Services head office, thanks to two major projects seeking rezoning.

Michelle Charlton owns the land at the corner of Highway 99 and Garibaldi Way. She wants to develop the former bulk fuel plant property into a restaurant building and a bank with drive-through windows to service both businesses.

At a public hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 20, Charlton explained that her original plan was to stick with the existing zoning and build two restaurant buildings with two drive-throughs and capacity to house three restaurants. That plan changed when CIBC called her and asked if she would consider seeking a rezoning for the property to allow a bank on the property.

In council discussions leading up to the public hearing, councillors Bryan Raiser, Susan Chapelle and Patricia Heintzman spoke against allowing any more drive-through windows in Squamish.

Of the 20 people who spoke to the members of council about the development, most indicated they support it. Those opposed said they were against the addition of more drive through windows in Squamish.

Engineer John Grainger of R.F. Binnie & Associates said the site plan and its associated road improvements will bring needed safety upgrades to the intersection of Garibaldi Way and Government Road.

"This intersection cries out for improvement," said Grainger.

The project proposal calls for the installation of a three-way stop and other design features aimed at making the intersection safer.

Terry Dean, the owner of Squamish's existing Tim Horton's, said Squamish needs a second outlet, which he also hopes to run, to relieve the pressure on the existing restaurant. "We would like to grow with the community," Dean told the members of Squamish Council.

Carol Bird said the bank should be rejected as she pointed out that a number of community planning documents suggest any new banks proposed should be located in the downtown area.

Charlton noted that she was told by CIBC that if the rezoning isn't approved the bank won't look for a property in the downtown area.

In advance of hearing submissions about the rezoning of the property near Highway 99, council heard comments about the Centrepoint proposal. This project is a joint venture between Sea to Sky Community Services (SSCS) and the United Church of Squamish.

The SSCS has outgrown its current main office and in an effort to consolidate its operations it is proposing to redevelop the church property to add a three-floor building that would house seven units of supported housing, SSCS offices and a community meeting space along with the church. The developers want permission to take the building up to five floors if future needs require expansion.

Karen Shard lives right across the street from the church. She expressed concern over parking, increased traffic and construction impacts on her house.

"I don't want to have this facility built in front of my house," she said.

Social worker Peter Harker said the housing units in the plan wouldn't fulfill the need in the community. He said many homeless people are living in the forested area of the Squamish estuary because Squamish has a lack of affordable housing.

More than 20 people shared their feelings on the proposal for the development on a residential street. Deb McBride, a resident who lives around the corner from the church site also spoke against the development along with Shard and Harker. The rest of the speakers were in favour of the planned redevelopment of the property.

Those who spoke in favour of the project all agreed that the proposal presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Squamish.

Now that the public hearings for the two project proposals are complete, the members of council are expected to consider fourth reading of the rezoning applications as soon as Dec. 4 when council is scheduled to hold its next regular meeting.

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