Is Squamish developing too fast for council to 

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Foofat said there was considerable debate on whether or not to include political representatives, but, ultimately, she and her colleagues decided against it. “Whether council really wanted to allocate their time to that level of discussion was debated, as well. The intent was never to offend council or make council feel marginalized or sidelined.”

Heintzman, in the mayor’s chair during that meeting, positioned herself alongside Foofat, saying a political presence might not inspire productive reactions from other guests.

Meanwhile, Lonsdale points to the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District’s Regional Growth Strategy as an exemplary issue council doesn’t fully understand.

Built into the RGS, which is still in the works, are various functions that operate on a per capita formula. Squamish has the largest fixed population in the SLRD, and functions dealing with transportation and economic development could see the district paying for more than it justifiably needs to.

For example, an economic development officer mandated by the SLRD would be redundant in Squamish, where the Sustainability Corporation is already moving ahead with diversification initiatives, many with implications stretching at least into Whistler.

“The only way to get rid of that formula is to vote against it,” Lonsdale says, adding that Whistler, Pemberton and Lillooet wouldn’t likely come onboard. “But I don’t think council understands that at this point.”

So how to come to that brand of understanding? Lonsdale calls for longer meetings, issue-specific sittings and so-called shirtsleeve cram sessions, all things the acting mayor agrees with.

This week’s meeting started at 9 a.m., a marked change form the usual afternoon start time. This week also marked the first shirtsleeve session, which took a few weeks of misfires to get off the ground. During that meeting, Sutherland, back from a temporary health leave, said council sometimes spends too much time on issues of relatively minor importance.

“Once a month,” he said, “we get bogged down by something brought before us by a delegation.”

That session produced commitments to enhance communications between staff and council, prioritize agenda items and continue to meet in shirtsleeve formats to improve dialogue between councillors.

Meanwhile, while Lonsdale says council has an amicable culture of trust and respect, Heintzman disagrees, saying some councillors have solid bonds of trust, while others do not.

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