Paradise Trails hazard study expected in six months 

Equestrian project could break earth within a year

It's been three months since the Paradise Trails equestrian community blazed through third reading, dividing council, rankling staff and stoking the long-neglected hopes of Squamish's horse community.
Toni Kerekes counts herself among those enthusiasts. She's ready to buy a home on one of the 82 lots, ready to pony up the approximately $400,000 the proponent was asking for last year.
But, though a member of an advisory board put together to help steer the development, she hasn't heard much from Tri City Group, the engine behind the project.
"We had a group discussion again back before Christmas," she said. "(Proponent) Michael (Goodman) was just talking to the horse community, just seeing what we were looking for. But, other than that, I've heard nothing. I'm curious about how the new council will deal with it because they're not pro this. Whether they'll rescind third reading would be interesting to me."
They can. It was done to Kingswood Crescent Developments over their Red Point project. But they won't. According to Mayor Greg Gardner, who voted against the idea when a councillor last term, the new council has yet to discuss the project.
As for the planning department, they're waiting on information, and they aren't expecting it any time soon. That's because there was a lot outstanding, especially for a project to pass third reading. The department calls those "prior-tos," as in prior to adoption of the bylaw. At the top of that list is the hazard plan, as the development is proposed for a flood-prone area of Paradise Valley.
"As recently as today they've decided to initiate a meeting," Director of Planning Cameron Chalmers said last week. "We can't comment on where the project's at except to say none of the prio-tos have been satisfied."
Tri City has been making efforts on the hazard plan. The group recently sent the district a letter asking to partner with the North Vancouver Outdoor School, which, thanks to some redevelopment, will also require a hazard plan.
"It's our planning department's view that that is not advantageous because these are different uses," said Gardner. "One is residential, and the other is institutional. There would be different hazards and risks. That would not be advantageous, and we've communicated that to the developer."
In an interview with Pique, Goodman said he expects a hazard study to come forward in about six month's time.
"Our experts today are saying it's not a big issue," he said. "It's certainly one that can be mitigated."
He also dismissed concerns over the larger economic situation and its potential to negatively impact the project.
"We own the land outright," he said, "and this is a unique development that has a niche market. And we believe they'll be here when the time is ready to build it, which we expect will be in the next year."
Paradise Trails is an 82-lot proposal anchored by an equestrian centre and a public trail system. The lot sizes range from .5 to two acres. District staff has been opposed to the project since day one, saying it violates the current planning paradigm, which is supported by Smart Growth principles. And yet, after a long and occasionally emotional public hearing, last term's council approved the project five to two.

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