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Enter the new downtown



Called mirEau, it’s being hailed as a harbinger of both the new Squamish downtown and the new waterfront.

If Westmana is awarded a development permit for a lot between Loggers Lane and the Mamquam Blind Channel in Squamish, the four-storey building will house 52 apartments with 1,100 square feet of the ground floor set aside for commercial uses, and one-third of the .71-acre lot for publicly accessible green space.

At this week’s council meeeting, a rezoning application put forward by the proponent received third reading after a public hearing that saw almost every speaker favouring the proposal in much the same vein as the accompanying staff report.

Representatives of Howe Sound Women’s Centre and Sea to Sky Community Services praised Westmana’s corporate citizenship. The lot in question used to house those facilities, and, thanks to generous monetary compensation, both have found new digs elsewhere.

Greg Fischer of the downtown business improvement area gave it a green light, though he said future development in the downtown core and along the waterfront should contain more commercial space.

A woman living in Brackendale expressed interest in moving to the building after her children leave home.

The yacht club can’t imagine a better situation.

Peter Harker, incensed to his very posture, was the only obvious detractor. And vehemently so given the tense verbal exchange he had with Mayor Ian Sutherland, who attempted to shut down Harker’s sometimes convoluted address on the grounds that it was off topic.

“There’s tons of green space down here that’s being taken up by development,” stressed Harker, there on behalf of the Squamish Downtown Neighbourhood Association.

Regardless, the staff report says the proposal is “consistent with Smart Growth on the Ground and the Draft Neighbourhood Plan (DNP), which promote mixed-use developments and a high-quality public realm.”

Of course, as noted by resident Eric Anderson, there’s something of an absentee ownership issue in Squamish. If mirEau becomes a venue for more of the same, then it may be a harbinger of something other than the work, live and play principle enshrined in the DNP.

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