Squamish waterfront plans will be ‘transformational’ 

Chairman pledges to leave other waterfronts ‘in the dust’

If the newly formed Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation converts on what it’s planning to do, Squamish could host one of the world’s most dynamic waterfronts.

Chairman of the SODC Larry Murray said his organization has a choice with the waterfront and so far there has been a distinct push to develop a world-first.

"Because of 2010 we are going to have a lot of people come through here… and they’re going to see what Whistler and Vancouver have to offer but they have to pass through Squamish, and it’s going to become the jewel in the crown," said Murray.

"The waterfront that we’re going to hopefully have in part ready to demonstrate for them is going to leave other waterfronts in the dust. Is that powerful thinking? Yes. Is that challenging? Absolutely yes. Is it far fetched? A little bit, but much better to do that than to say ‘ho-hum let’s pick up another cookie-cutter and plop another gingerbread style waterfront on our waterfront’."

Murray said if the waterfront is developed properly then it will "re-create the town" and more specifically reinvigorate the downtown area.

"The downtown has moved out of the downtown and up the highway as far as the commercial-retail section is concerned, towards the Canadian Tire area. And that’s going to continue with Home Depot and Wal-Mart and so on. But what seems to be a disaster is really turning into a miracle. And that is that the downtown is being cleaned out, in a way, and it’s leaving it wide open for redevelopment."

Murray said the SODC’s approach could be summed up in three terms: transferral, transactional and transformation.

"We know that overnight we could transfer existing waterfront development ideas into the downtown," he said. "But the research we’ve done tells us that the waterfront development happening on the West Coast and around the world is becoming more ubiquitous in that the last one looks like the one before it.

"So we’ve said no, we’re not going to do that because the whole picture frame that the Squamish waterfront sits on… is so spectacular that how dare we just transfer in something from Seattle or Vancouver.

"That leaves us with transactional, which is where we pick up a lot of old ideas and tweak them so that they fit the Squamish environment, and we’ve said, no, that’s an option, but we’re not going to go there either.

"So where we’re focussing, and it’s more challenging, is the transformational, which is, in other words, creating a waterfront that’s never been created before. Creating a concept of waterfront environments that are futuristic or ahead of the game, and that’s a challenge."

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