Gardner courts chamber 

Squamish mayor announces economic development committee, encourages lobbying

With tension over the closing of Triack Resources relegated to the annals of local media, Squamish Mayor Greg Gardner addressed the Chamber of Commerce this week, using his first official address to announce the creation of an economic development committee.
According to Gardner, the new committee will review the district's entire economic development apparatus, including the Squamish Sustainability Corporation, Tourism Squamish, and council itself. Councillor Paul Lalli will chair the committee.
"This is so we aren't overlapping resources by overlapping money, volunteers or whatever the resource may be," said Gardner.
The mayor also announced the creation of five other committees, these ones more concerned with the "core functions" of the district. Bodies will be struck to deal with parks and recreation, finance, community development, operations and protective services.
Gardner sought to foster a healthy rapport between the chamber and council, inviting members to lobby not only local government, but also provincial and federal overlords when their policies impact the district.
"I'm here to encourage you to get involved in municipal issues," he said. "And not just municipal issues - there are federal and provincial issues going on in our community, too."
Chamber members were invited to opine on a host of local issues, not least of which is the forthcoming budget. He highlighted the Oceanfront Peninsula, economic development, individual developments and the Official Community Plan, which the mayor said should appear before council within six months.
"Now, we're behind on the current draft," he said. "It's been taking a long time."
And yet, conflict is likely despite the open arms. A potential point of friction is Garibaldi at Squamish, which the chamber supports. For its part, both this council and the previous one have held off on taking a position, citing a lack of information as the reason. Fiscal and environmental impacts, as well as economic viability, have all raised flags among elected officials.
Gardner closed his speech with comments on the global economic situation and the environment, which has lost ground to the former in the realm of public discourse. On the economy, the mayor said the corridor is well poised to weather the storm, in no small part because of the 2010 Olympics. On the environment, he reminded business operators to think local before global.
His speech was well received by Chamber President Margo Dent.
"We look forward to this relationship," she said. "With all of us working towards the same goal, we should be able to work well together."
At last month's chamber lunch there was discontent over the closing of Triack Resources, a wood waste recycler whose operating license was revoked after a sublicense agreement could not be reached. That didn't surface this week, though Gardner was perhaps prepared for it, as he opened his speech by noting the composition of the new council, every member of which has at least managerial experience, if not entrepreneurial.

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