Oceanfront planning moving along 

Marine study to enrich Squamish land use possibilities

With phase one in the bag, Squamish Oceanfront planners are stoking a second set of fires.

Phase two will build off reinvigorated efforts to engage citizens and stakeholders, a strategy launched in June with an open house.

“We felt we really did get it right,” said consultant Peter Whitelaw, adding that community input was vigorous.

With the establishment of 10 guiding principles, focus will turn to land use, with employment and public access figuring large. Lending texture to the employment end of things is a recently approved marine development study, which aims to explore potential industries for all of Squamish’s waterfront lands, including the Oceanfront peninsula.

“One example might be pocket cruise ships,” said Councillor Greg Gardner. “There’s been a lot of talk about pocket cruise ships in the community. What that means to me is small cruise ships. If you had a terminal on the SODC (Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation) lands that could accommodate that type of thing, it probably won’t create a lot of jobs on those lands, but it might have a big influence on downtown businesses, for example.”

During the strategy session, Councillor Corinne Lonsdale flagged the list of guiding principles. She felt employment wasn’t given due representation, especially given the recent approval of the marine study.

“It troubles me because I don’t want us to get off on the wrong foot again,” she said in an interview with Pique . “I want us to be sure that all uses be considered. How they’ll fit down there is another issue.”

The potential for robust job creation on the peninsula is top of mind for a number of councillors. Raj Kahlon, for example, once tabled a motion calling for a third of the land to be used for economic stimulation. Ideas like Gardner’s — those that look at the site as part of the overall downtown, as opposed to a separate piece of property — are also gaining traction.

“There’s been a bit of a tendency to look at this site as independent from the rest of the community,” said lead planner Cameron Chalmers.

“It has to be done outside of that area, as well as on those lands,” said Councillor Patricia Heintzman in an interview with Pique . “There is an opportunity to create good jobs down there.”

Phase two also promises more public consultation and stakeholder engagements. In addition to the website and open house tactics, a set of focus groups will soon come on stream. Those sessions will explore economic development, community facilities, sustainability targets and other such topics.

“Unfortunately, anything that touches the Oceanfront seems to have some controversy associated with it,” said Heintzman. “Sometimes it’s almost too much because of history and how we got the lands.”

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