Squamish council holds firm on objections regional growth strategy 

The District of Squamish (DOS) may have entered into a non-binding conflict resolution process with the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) at the request of the province, but council is sticking to its gun on a few matters of contention.

At Tuesday's council meeting, councillors voted unanimously to approve a resolution in support of regional planning and rejoin the development process, but with a caveat that "the District of Squamish has not agreed to transfer or delegate land use planning authority over lands located within the present or future boundaries of the District of Squamish," and that the DOS will "not support or approve the Regional Growth Strategy until the Settlement Planning Map provisions related to lands within the present or future boundaries of a member municipality are deleted."

Councillor Doug Race drafted the resolution and took the opportunity to explain why Squamish could not support the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) process as it currently stands.

"The (RGS contains) a number of planning principles that are consistent with planning tools used by the District of Squamish, but it also contains settlement planning maps," he said. "Each of the four member municipalities and the Squamish map determines urban areas and non-settlement areas. Urban includes lands that are already developed or already designated for future development and roughly what's in the Official Community Plan (OCP). The Regional Growth Strategy would restrict settlement in non-settlement areas.

"In the future if we wanted to go into a non-settlement area with some form of development we would have to amend our OCP, but also go to the regional district to have the RGS amended. What it does is transfer the planning authority that is vested in this council to the regional district, and would have people that are not elected by the people of Squamish making land use plans for Squamish."

Councillor Paul Lalli thanked mayor Greg Gardner for leading the battle against the RGS when Gardner was still a councillor.

"In my mind we could have huge issues affecting our economy, with respect to land use decisions," he said. "Having said that, only five regional districts have supported (RGS). Even in Vancouver (they) are not supporting it for different reasons, but for similar issues. We have to be very careful going into this, the lack of public input and lack of public knowledge is a huge concern for me."

Councillor Corinne Lonsdale supported the motion against the RGS, but said if they removed the non-settlement maps she would feel more comfortable with the process. "It's the issue of our autonomy," she said.

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