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Squamish waterfront inching ahead

Squamish Oceanfront Developement Corporation secures sub-area plan

After years of delays hinging on differences over vision and bureaucratic red tape, the Squamish Oceanfront Development Corp. (SODC) has secured a sub-area plan for the unused waterfront land adjacent to the downtown core. The document, which was ratified in November by the area's landowners - BC Rail Properties, Mamquam Ocean Channel Developments Ltd. (MOCD)/Westmana Development Corp. and the Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation (SODC) - identifies land use for the area.

"That was one of the first pieces of work that the banks wanted, as well as the community wanted, that gives us confidence that the community supports that vision and now we're in the process of doing the numbers part of it," said Squamish Councillor Paul Lalli, adding that council is currently meeting with the Squamish and District Labour Committee (SLDC) over future steps. "I believe the three land owners are all on the same page in terms of their development vision as a commercial, land, recreational employment-type area. They're all tied in with that."

Next door to the land slated for development, the Squamish Terminals leases their 60-acre parcel from BC Rail Properties. As a deep-water, break-bulk cargo terminal that operates around the clock when loading a ship, its company managers' biggest concern was ensuring any future residential developments aren't disrupted by the noise.

"I think that the plan that they have put out right now, in which the pieces of the property which are closest to us at this point are planned for light industrial, means we won't be across from some condos," said Squamish Terminals Vice-President of Information Services and Administration, Doug Hackett.

"We've been very happy with the response of the Oceanfront Development Corp. to our concerns and we're looking forward to that plan starting development."

Previous attempts to develop the waterfront fell through in 2006 when Qualex Landmark Group of Companies walked away from the table.

"The community felt it (the plan) was too dense for residential and they wanted to see more employment," continued Lalli.

"That was one of the things that we took to heart when we developed this plan and that's the third, third, third, from jobs to parks to residential, so it's following that framework...I believe the developer didn't have the confidence to move forward at that time."