Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) Electoral Area D representative Tony Rainbow, 80, will seek another term on the SLRD board in the Oct. 15 municipal election.
Rainbow’s platform focuses on three main points: housing, agriculture and recreation.
On housing, Rainbow highlighted a handful of significant projects currently moving through the rezoning process in Area D, which covers more than 3,000 square kilometres in the SLRD's southern most region, from Whistler all the way to Porteau Cove south of Squamish.
These significant projects include the Britannia Beach redevelopment, which is nearing completion and will bring 73 townhomes online within the next two years.
Additionally, two major housing developments are proposed for the region, including the South Britannia Surf Park, which could provide up to 1,000 units of housing, and the proposed Fine Peace, Furry Creek expansion could add another 870 units of housing.
Rainbow believes that there needs to be a regional outlook on solving the housing crisis in the Sea to Sky, and new ideas on solving the problem should be discussed.
"We have a housing crisis in the Sea to Sky corridor. I don't think we can look at it in terms of [just municipalities]. Squamish has a problem, Whistler has a problem. They do, but it's a regional problem,” Rainbow said.
"As we're building these new developments, I think we need to, and we are, looking at ways of providing different kinds of housing. So in Fine Peace, for example, in Furry Creek, not just building luxury townhomes.There'll be a variety of housing here, including some below-market units in an attempt to provide opportunities for people that can get work and live here.
"I think that's one thing we need to look at, but quite frankly, we need to go beyond what we're doing right now. In terms of housing, we need to look at what other alternatives are out there. What can we consider, and what can we do to improve the housing supply?"
Rainbow has lived in the community of Furry Creek for eight years, having moved to the area from Surrey, where he previously worked as a high school principal.
He was first elected as the director for Area D in 2014 by acclamation, and re-elected by acclamation in 2018.
Rainbow noted that in Furry Creek, there has been an explosion of visitors in recent years as people have discovered the beach area—and as hype grows on social media, so too does the number of tourists.
"I think that we are having a lot more people coming into this area since COVID. I think we were discovered, in some ways, during COVID,” Rainbow said.
“We're getting a lot more people. So we need to recognize that and deal with it."
Rainbow also wants to see more local agriculture developed in Area D to combat the rising environmental and economic costs of importing food to the region by encouraging more community gardens and using Agricultural Land Reserve land to its full potential.
"We have the capability of producing a lot more food locally than we currently are doing. We have agricultural land reserves. We need to be working on getting that land into food production," Rainbow said.
"When we talked about agriculture and food production, mostly the Squamish Valley, there's a lot of agricultural land reserve up there that is still treed, and some of it that is cleared is not yet not in food production,” he added.
"We need to work at that. We can't afford to lose that agricultural land, and we can't afford to let it lie there doing nothing."
The nomination period for B.C.'s 2022 municipal elections is open now until Sept. 9.
Voters head to the polls on Oct. 15. Find more information at slrd.bc.ca/inside-slrd/spotlight/2022-general-local-elections.