The year past was one of change for Squamish. As it began so did the work of a mostly newly elected district government.
There were three new councillors and a new mayor — and for the first time in many years, Corrine Lonsdale wasn't sitting at the council table. She opted not to seek re-election after 25 years of public service.
Half way through the new council's first year in office the seven community leaders learned they needed to find a new chief administrative officer (CAO) — a key position in any local government. Corien Speaker was hired as the new CAO.
On January 10, Lonsdale was given the community's highest honour and presented with the Freedom of the Municipality.
Two key District of Squamish hires also took place in January. Tim Hoskins was hired as Squamish's Director of Recreation Services, then a few days later Ella-Fay Zalezsak was hired as the new Library Director.
The year got off to a paranormal start when strange lights were seen over the community in the first week of January. The military reported a few days later that the strange lights were part of an effort to get a search and rescue helicopter to the Casper Creek area to help in the rescue of Whistler Ski Patroller Duncan MacKenzie after he was killed in an avalanche.
Last year's Brackendale Eagles count was not encouraging. A lower than average number of the raptors were found during the annual community eagle count on Jan. 8, 2012.
"I believe it is the fish farms that are to blame," said Thor Froslev, the owner of the Brackendale Art Gallery and host of the count.
According to Froslev, sea lice originating from coastal fish farms are infecting native salmon and that is reducing salmon returns, which in turn has led to a reduced number of eagles visiting each winter.
Meanwhile, MP John Weston brought federal fisheries and oceans minister Keith Ashfield to the Sea to Sky corridor on Jan. 11 to learn more about salmon issues in the area. Ashfield toured the Tenderfoot Fish Hatchery and the spawning habitat at the North Vancouver Outdoor School. Local fish advocates hoped the visit would prompt the minister to provide funding to preserve more habitat for salmon in the Cheakamus River watershed.
It was learned in February that the population of Squamish grew by 14.6 per cent between 2006 and 2011, making it the town in B.C. with the largest growth percentage between census periods. With a population of more than 17,000, Squamish now has to cover almost all the policing costs incurred by the RCMP, a community cost increase of about $900,000.
Cougars caused concerns for Brackendale and Cheekeye area residents in March. An adult male that attacked a dog was destroyed and a second cougar was hit and killed by a car near Furry Creek.
Community leaders debated policies around food security and where livestock can and can't be raised in Squamish. The Willmot family got swept up into the debate in March when they were ordered to remove their chickens and goat from a home in a residential area. Further council discussion led to approval of beekeeping in residential areas and the members of council agreed that a community chicken cooperative would be explored as a compromise in the residential chicken debate.
A Chinese company announced plans to develop the Makin Lands just south of Britannia after paying $30.5 million for the land through a court ordered sale. Architect Ron Lea said in March that the Taicheng Development Corporation didn't intend to seek bank financing for the first phase of development.
While Taicheng was making news on the Britannia waterfront, the Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation announced it was ready to partner with world-class developers to finally move the former Nexen chemical plant lands toward development.
Mayor Rob Kirkham said a request for interested investors and developers would be launched.
"We see this as being a defining moment in our history," Kirkham said.
At the beginning of spring, mountain bike riders celebrated the grand opening of a trail called Full Nelson to kick off the riding season like no season before it.
More than 250 people gathered at the edge of Garibaldi Provincial Park above Quest University to be amongst the first to ride a new trail built by Ted Tempany and his trail building team at Dream Wizards.
The friends and family of Jodi Henrickson marked the third anniversary of the teen's disappearance in June. She was last seen on Bowen Island by her former boyfriend. Her disappearance is being treated as a homicide case and is still under investigation.
Movie lovers in Squamish said goodbye to the Garibaldi 5 Cinema in August. The Dark Knight Rises was the last movie to play at the theatre operation. David Corwin with Garibaldi 5 said his company just couldn't continue to carry on losing money at the venue.
"The economics just don't work," Corwin said of running the theater in Squamish.
A forest fire near the headwaters of Culliton Creek puffed smoke into the air over the Sea to Sky corridor a few times over the course of the summer. Forestry officials concluded the fire was caused by lightning. The blaze was located in steep terrain.
The Sea to Sky Gondola was in the news a number of times in 2012. The project proponents were given all the government approvals required to install the sightseeing lift that is proposed to go through Stawamus Chief Provincial Park just north of Shannon Falls. Critics complained the approval process was flawed and lobbied unsuccessfully to delay approvals for the project.
It was a tough year for Squamish bears with more than a dozen killed by the middle of October. Meg Toom, the District of Squamish Bear Aware Coordinator, said natural food sources were scarce so more bears than usual turned to backyard fruit trees, birdfeeders and garbage containers for food.
"With a wet spring and unseasonably dry weather during the late summer and fall, the alpine berry crop has been negatively impacted, forcing many bears to forage for food in the valley," said Toom.
In the final weeks of the year, Squamish council approved a rezoning application that led to approval of a development proposal for the corner of Highway 99 and Garibaldi Way. The property developer plans to put a Tim Horton's restaurant on the property along with a CIBC Bank. Both operations will have drive through windows, sparking a debate over how many drive through service windows in Squamish is too many.
And, the Garibaldi at Squamish resort proposal resurfaced with the proponents holding a public information meeting in November. The proponents revealed that they plan to pump the resort's water up the mountain from a well near the Tenderfoot Fish Hatchery.
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