Paradise Trails getting rough ride 

With staff opposed and council of two minds, a spokesperson for the Paradise Trails equestrian development north of Squamish says her team will work to reassure the district that the project is sustainable, viable and tilted at locals.

“As a team, we need to address all the planning staff and council’s issues — and to make everyone feel comfortable that this is an appropriate development, and that it would be something good for Squamish,” said Carolyn Frances-Lair, community development specialist with Tri City Properties.

The company’s 82-home, equestrian centre and basic amenity project, which is proposed for 112 acres of Paradise Valley, received second reading at council two weeks ago. In a 10-page report written by district planner Chris Bishop, staff panned the proposal for a litany of reasons, saying it would bring about the suburbanization of the valley, put residents at risk because of its location on the Cheakamus River’s flood plain and infringe on a number of environmental design principles currently favoured by the district.

Regardless of the report, council moved the project through first and second reading with only two councillors opposing. There will be a public hearing before third reading.

“The idea is we’re building an equestrian centre, and there’s 82 lots,” said Lair. “It’s not like a subdivision, where all of a sudden there’s 82 houses. There’s 82 lots — if that gets approved. There may be less. And this isn’t something that will happen overnight. It will happen very gradually over seven years.”

She said the team is working on a traffic report to address staff concerns that Paradise Valley Road will become congested. Further, Lair noted, the proposal contains a number of roadwork measures that she said would better the area’s system, such as new paving on dirt sections.

Lair also sought to downplay staff’s point about flood hazards.

First of all,” she said, “all of Squamish is a flood plain. That valley is in a flood plain area and we knew that and took it seriously, and we had some of Canada’s best hydrologists and a company called Aqua-Tex look at it. And we had really good reports… that say, yes, it is a flood plain, but the particular land that we own is not in danger at all, that it’s the highlands.”

And, Lair continued, a drainage system is part of the proposal. That system doubles as a water storage network, something Lair said should’ve addressed staff’s water shortage worries, which she finds contradictory.

“On the one hand, their saying flooding, flooding, and then, on the other hand, there’s not enough water. The district only has four planners, and they certainly are hardworking, but they didn’t have the luxury and the time and the money that we had to go in and work the area. We had a team of 15 people.”

Councillor Patricia Hientzman, who, along with Greg Gardner, voted against the project, suggested that Tri City is actually targeting a West Vancouver clientele. Lair adamantly refuted that, saying she personally toured the valley talking to residents and drumming up support. Development on Loggers Lane, she said, squeezed horseback riders out of the town’s recreational tapestry, and the appetite for an equestrian venue in the valley’s rural environs is consequently strong.

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