Amendment to SLRD regional growth strategy up for ratification in January 

SLRD briefs: Regional district to celebrate 50 years; Internet advocacy to continue in 2018

click to enlarge GROWTH GUIDE - A planned amendment to the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District's Regional Growth Strategy seeks to direct future growth to member municipalities rather than non-urban areas. Pictured is an artist's rendering of the proposed Garibaldi in Squamish four-season ski resort.
  • GROWTH guide
  • A planned amendment to the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District's Regional Growth Strategy seeks to direct future growth to member municipalities rather than non-urban areas. Pictured is an artist's rendering of the proposed Garibaldi in Squamish four-season ski resort.

With assent from all member municipalities, an amendment to the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District's (SLRD) regional growth strategy will be up for ratification in January.

The amendment seeks to direct future growth to member municipalities rather than non-urban areas, and remove "destination resort language" from the strategy.

Though the SLRD maintains the amendment is not specific to any one piece of land in the regional district, the move has drawn the ire of the proponents of Garibaldi at Squamish (GAS) and the Squamish Nation (SN).

The $3.5-billion GAS project, with the support of the SN, seeks to add a new four-season ski resort on Brohm Ridge north of Squamish.

Local governments in Whistler, Pemberton and Squamish have all come out against it.

"I don't take the Squamish Nation's concerns lightly at all," said SLRD chair Jack Crompton.

"This is Squamish Nation traditional territory. I expect and intend for their cultural priorities and economic aspirations to be primary considerations of everything that happens in this region."

The amendment is part of a provincially mandated update to the regional growth strategy, Crompton noted.

The SLRD board of directors will vote on the amendment at the regular board meeting on Jan. 24.

SLRD TO CELEBRATE 50 YEARS

With its 50th anniversary taking place in October 2018, the SLRD has set aside $20,000 to help mark the occasion.

"Celebrating 50 years is exciting. Our goal is to get into the rural areas in all of these communities, have parties, celebrate what has happened there throughout history, and specifically in the last 50 years," Crompton said.

"I think the SLRD today is working well together. Member municipalities have respect for each other and for the rural areas, and the First Nations that are in the region. We take each other seriously, we do good work, and we promote the aspirations of the people who live here."

Looking ahead to 2018, Crompton said the SLRD will look to grow its relationships with First Nations in the district, and work collaboratively to advocate for SLRD residents.

"We want to continue to advocate for provincial investment in road infrastructure in and around Lillooet, (and) we want to understand and manage the extremely fast growth of development between Vancouver and Squamish," he said.

INTERNET ADVOCACY TO CONTINUE

Another topic of SLRD advocacy in the new year will be improving internet access for residents in rural areas.

"Unfortunately, in and around Pemberton, new builds can't connect to the internet at all," Crompton said.

"The internet has become a fundamental utility for communities, and one that we need to see available to everyone in our regional district."

Connecting all residents to reliable, high-speed internet would be costly from an infrastructural standpoint, but supporting smaller internet providers could provide a way forward.

"There is a frustrating reality currently, in which local governments cannot give financial aid in support to business, and so we're limited in the way we can fund these small internet providers," Crompton said.

"And that is a project that we're working on now... there is some legislation that we're asking the province to change that would allow us to pass on that funding."

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