Squamish launches survey on Vancouver commuter service 

With a growing number of Squamish residents working in the city the District of Squamish (DOS) and AECOM Canada are conducting a survey to determine if there is any interest in establishing a Squamish to Metro Vancouver commuter bus service during weekday peak periods.

The survey will investigate the feasibility, cost and ridership of a potential service that would operate from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday, between Squamish and locations in Metro Vancouver. Proposed stops in Metro Vancouver include Park Royal in West Vancouver and the Hotel Vancouver in the downtown core. Other stops include Lions Bay, Horseshoe Bay (B.C. Ferries), Lonsdale Quay, and the train station, although those stops would be contingent on finding additional funding.

The service would complement the services currently offered by Greyhound.

The survey is available at municipal hall as well as online at www.squamish.ca. The deadline is May 23.

Solicitor General stands by RCMP cost increase

B.C. Solicitor General John van Dongen has promised to review policing costs for the DOS, but stood by the decision to raise the town's share of policing costs from 70 per cent to 90 per cent, based on revised census numbers.

In B.C. the threshold is a population of 15,000 and in the 2006 census used to determine costs the population of Squamish was pegged at 14,949, to qualify the town for the 70 per cent rate. However, van Dongen noted that the census numbers are not official for B.C. until they apply a calculation for Net Census Undercoverage, which put the town's population over 15,000.

"This process produces the most accurate reflection of the total population for each province, and these totals are subsequently used by federal and provincial governments for all population-based formulas," wrote the Solictor General in a letter was accepted at the April 21 council meeting. Van Dongen also promised to instruct RCMP to minimize cost pressures and to review district concerns over integrated teams. Specifically, council wanted to know how much Squamish RCMP officers spent on the highway outside of District boundaries.

The difference between 70 per cent and 90 per cent funding is roughly $600,000 a year, at a time when council is working with staff to reconcile two very different budget proposals - a budget put forward by staff that called for a 17.5 per cent increase in property taxes, and a budget directive from the finance standing committee that called for a four per cent decrease in 2009 compared to 2008. Squamish District has until May 15 to submit its budget to the province. 

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