Seat to Sky Highway communities want to revisit alternate routes options 

Communities along Highway 99 want any highway upgrade solution to be for the long term.

For Squamish and Lions Bay that means taking another look at alternate routes, either up Indian Arm or through the Capilano watershed, before making a commitment to how much faster, more efficient travel can be accomplished in the corridor.

"We need to focus in on what the best solution is," said Paul Lalli, acting mayor in Squamish.

"If the best solution is an alternate route then we need to put the time into that.

"And if the province doesn’t see that as the best solution then we need to sit down and see how we can mitigate possible closures and these sort of things."

The Ministry of Transportation is currently consulting on four options for the Sea to Sky Highway, ranging from safety upgrades to a four-lane highway all the way from Vancouver to Whistler.

If a new highway is constructed it is likely the road will face closures of four hours each day, eight hours each night, for four days a week during three seasons for four years.

Lalli is pleased the province is seriously looking at improving transport to his community, which he believes is poised for growth.

A new university is in the works, and the community plan predicts population growth up to 30,000 in the long term.

"I fully commend the province for looking at putting some capital investment into the highway system, that is something that is long overdue," said Lalli.

"Squamish has a huge bank of land that is primarily ideal for single family units. It has a huge potential for higher density living in the downtown and so I really look at Squamish as poised and ready to explode over the next 10 to 20 years.

"We are moving forward knowing that Squamish is going to become more urbanized and we are ready for the growth and we are definitely wanting it.

"We are in a great location between Vancouver and Whistler so we know that growth is inevitable."

Squamish has taken the position that its first choice for an upgrade is to have access through Indian Arm.

But currently the province has ruled out alternate routes, as those studied either pass through provincial parks, have significant landslide and avalanche risk, threaten Vancouver watersheds and all are very expensive.

"We definitely appreciate any investment in the corridor, but our first option would be an alternate route in Indian Arm because it would alleviate any possible closures to the existing highway," said Lalli.

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