Squamish seeking help with marine issues 

Members of Squamish Council also discuss yard waste and fireworks

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Squamish council is reaching out to the Lower Mainland Local Government Association (LMLGA) for support in dealing with derelict and abandoned boats.

The District of Squamish wants the LMLGA to help lobby the federal and provincial governments to help resolve marine issues like the current collection of aging vessels moored in the Mamquam Blind Channel.

The organizers of the annual LMLGA convention are accepting resolutions for discussion at the meeting in Whistler May 7 to 9. One of the resolutions Squamish plans to present is a plea for help remove derelict and abandoned vessels.

According to Mayor Rob Kirkham, senior governments, particularly the federal government, haven't responded to Squamish's concerns about marine issues.

"It hasn't got the action that it needs," said Kirkham at the regular meeting of Squamish Council on Tuesday, March 17. "It hasn't got the senior governments, particularly the federal government, responding to our needs so I really do support us sending a motion on this topic."

Councillor Doug Race said while he is concerned about abandoned boats and derelicts he also wants to draw attention to sewage concerns.

"The other issue is live-aboards that are pumping sewage into the waterways. It is my understanding there's now some federal legislation that prohibits that a certain distance from shore," said Race.

Council voted to send two separate motions to LMLGA for consideration. One motion will address the issue of abandoned and derelict vessels while the other deals with the issue of emptying sewage holding tanks close to shore.

Yard waste collection returning

For the second year in a row, Squamish residents will have the option of putting yard waste out for collection by Carney's Waste Systems every two weeks.

The $90,000 program will begin May 12 and continue until Nov. 14, a total of 14 weeks of service, with yard waste collected the same day that recycle totes are placed out for collection. The service launched in 2012 as a pilot project for just one neighbourhood and in 2013 it was fully implemented throughout Squamish.

Councillor Ted Prior voted against renewing the program. He said he feels it isn't fair to make people who don't have yards to pay taxes for a service they don't use.

"Pull that $90,000 out and give the library a bit more — I'd be happy with that," said Prior.

Councillor Patricia Heintzman pointed out the utility budget is separate from general revenue, making it impossible to shuffle utility money to the library.

"This is a step in the right direction in my mind," said Councillor Patricia Heintzman of the plan to renew the yard waste collection program.

Rod MacLeod, Squamish's director of engineering, said the yard waste collection program has helped decrease the amount of waste going into the Squamish landfill.

"We've seen an increase in recycling rates from 31 per cent in 2011 to 45 per cent in 2013," MacLeod said. "That includes basically all of our recycling programs."

Fireworks won't be banned

An update to Squamish's fire service bylaw was discussed at length during a Committee of the Whole meeting.

Three key changes were made to the bylaw. Fire Chief Russ Inouye said the first change dealt with backyard burning, which won't be allowed any more. Inouye said yard waste should be put at the curb so it can be collected and composted. He called that a better option compared to burning it and polluting the air.

Fireworks were the topic of the second change. The new version of the bylaw allows families to purchase and light fireworks.

The third change allows the fire department to recover its costs in dealing with false alarm responses.

Inouye said the new bylaw emphasizes education over fines and legal enforcement.The bylaw was given first three readings.

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