Trail talks continue 

Squamish Trails Society to meet with mall proponents today

Two weeks ago, Bob Brant was cautiously optimistic. Now, he’s sounding pretty amped.

Last Thursday, Brant met with the proponents for Garibaldi Village Phase 2. He did so as a representative of the Squamish Trails Society, an organization once spurned by access and egress designs on Commercial Way, where Wal-Mart shoppers flock in vehicular droves. Now, the society is trying to prevent a similar design further north, between Canadian Tire and the Sea to Sky Hotel, where the new mall is proposed, at first, it seemed, at the expense of the Corridor Trail.

“It was a good meeting,” said Brant, “but we have nothing to report. It just means that when we do have something to report, we’ll have some interesting stuff. We’ll have an announcement at some point, and it’ll be some pretty exciting stuff.”

The meeting was the first face-to-face encounter Brant had with the proponent, Wesbild Shopping Centres. Previously, he had been communicating with Wesbild through phone calls and e-mails, and his mood was a little less upbeat.

“That would intercept our current trail that exists, the trail that was built by Ray Peters and funded by the Rotary,” said Brant of Wesbild’s access designs. “And any interception in the trail will be a safety risk, which is a concern, and we’re talking to the developer on those factors.”

While others in the cycling community point to the Commercial Way design as a harbinger of failed connectivity, Brant’s optimism has the benefit of Thursday’s meeting. After all, it’s more than likely the trail could act as a business artery for Wesbild’s tenants, one of which is London Drugs.

“It’s a well used trail,” said Brant. “People from the condos on the west side of the highway, across form Canadian Tire, use that trail to get to Extra Foods. It’s part of the route that goes form Brennan Park up to Garibaldi Highlands. It’s got a lot of community volume. It was also slated to be the Sea to Sky Trail route, and that will increase the volume. So it’s not a small deal.”

Brant thinks of it as a “spine.” In the context of the Corridor Trail, it represents a commuter corridor stretching from the Chief to Depot Road.

“That’s a major connection in our community,” said Brant.

Catherine Jackson, president of the Squamish Environmental Conservation Society, will be watching the new council closely on this issue.

“If they don’t get that trail right after the fiasco of the Discovery Trail and the crossroad, if they do the same thing again — it’s a good first test of the credentials of the new council,” she said. “Hopefully, they’ll get this right.”

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