A slough of garbage 

Water trail group tries to leverage rezoning

The long-term vision calls for a sort of aqua pathway flowing around downtown Squamish, kayakers and canoeists slicing along in recreational merriment. Too bad about the trash, the blocked culverts and the stagnant sloughs.

The Squamish Water Trail Action Group (SWTAG) has been floating this idea for some time. At a public meeting on the rezoning of a downtown property last week, group spokesperson Eric Andersen implored council to direct compensation funding into the idea.

The property in question, owned by Tohidi Holdings, could be rezoned to accommodate a two-family dwelling, while in the past it was intended as commercial post for the surrounding neighbourhood.

Former occupants of the existing building, which had a residential top floor, were pegged as the culprits behind rampant littering in Carson Slough, which is part of  SWTAG'S waterway vision. According to Andersen, as much as four cubic metres of garbage has been removed from the slough before. More than once.

Enter another layer of government. Should a new dwelling be built, the envelope would not fit with Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) setback requirements, which are 15 metres from top-of-bank. As such, compensation measures must be taken, which, as DFO would have it, must be permanent. Accordingly, re-vegetation is a preferred option.

However, the site itself does not allow for the density of trees required under the compensation agreement, so the proponent, at the behest of a registered forestry worker and the district, is eyeing up Valleycliffe as an alternate site.

"We believe it should be abandoned," said Andersen of the strategy, which is priced at $23,160.

Surrounding residents also form part of the SWTAG. They were able to convince council to unanimously pass a motion to have staff examine the potential of spending those funds on site for remediation of Carson and nearby Wilson sloughs. The whole idea was supported by the proponent, as were concerns about the neighbourhood's overall aesthetic, which many feel is going to seed.

Council will vote on the rezoning at the next regular meeting.

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