All seven District of Squamish Council members resigned from the board of the Squamish Sustainability Corporation this week, ending their association with an organization whose name had become synonymous with debt, secrecy and mismanagement.
The Squamish Sustainability Corporation, the District of Squamish's arms-length corporation, will now have a new board with three staff members serving as its directors instead.
As council passed a motion to dissociate itself from the Squamish Sustainability Corporation Tuesday, almost every councillor emitted a sigh of relief.
"I have waited for this day for so long," said Councillor Patricia Heintzman.
She was thinking aloud in the microphone, relaying the comment to no one but herself, but the sentiment seemed to reverberate through council.
"It's not a good use of council time," said Mayor Greg Gardner. "The council is here to deal with broad policy issues and not really the administrative issues like when to wash the windows or whether SAM stays up during the Olympics or not."
Last year in June, council unanimously voted themselves to be on the board of the SSC when the previous board had resigned en masse. But there was confusion as to the mandate of the board.
Mayor Gardner said despite misgivings, council was courageous enough to join the SSC and it has since helped the SSC with paying off its debt. It also made Tourism Squamish an entity completely independent from the SSC.
Gardner said once that was done there was no need for council to be on the SSC board. On the corporation's lack of transparency, Gardner said it was common for private corporations to have their meetings in-camera.
Heintzman said it was always council's intention to stay on the board for a short period of time.
"Many of us thought it will be four months and not one year and four months, so it was always the intention to be there for a temporary period of time," she said.
As of December 2009, the SSC had a debt of approximately $500,000, which is one reason the corporation can't be dismantled yet.
People against bells and whistles
Like a mischievous kid with a prank in mind, the CN train streaks through Squamish in the dead of the night, renting the skies with such a loud whistle that most residents who live close to the track wake up startled.
Once up, they have to listen to more shrieks and screeches as the train makes its way through the community. If they can somehow manage to sleep again, there's another trains already on its way.
Some of those residents were at the council meeting on Tuesday, July 20, hoping the district might be able to take up the matter with CN Rail.
"The repeated loud hum of shunting, the thunder of rail cars banging into each other, the screeching of brakes with the sounds of the bells and whistles have become a source of intolerable noise pollution," said Wolfgang Wittenburg, a resident who appeared before council with 130 names on a petition to stop the cacophony.
But getting that shunting and whistling to stop might take more than signatures. Council was informed by staff that stopping that whistle is a long bureaucratic process that could take at least four months, starting with notices being given to the general public.
Councillor Patricia Heintzman said as a responsible corporate citizen, CN Rail should make sure that they act expeditiously with such complaints.
Annual report presented
The District of Squamish's planning department launched its annual report, giving an update about the projects completed by the department. The annual report, available on the District of Squamish website, also gives a glimpse into some of the current and future projects planned by the department.