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Feature - Corridor dynamics

There’s much more than the Olympics and development projects on the horizon, there’s going to be a population shift

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The importance of the university is not lost on the people who live in Squamish either, particularly the mayor. Sutherland is confident the university will have a more telling impact than the Olympics.

"The town’s going through a transition but I think the university will have a bigger long-term impact than the Olympics because having a university in a town is a life-changing event," Sutherland said.

"The Olympics is a great event, which will do a lot for the community, but over the long term it’s the university that has people excited and will fundamentally change the direction the town’s going.

"It’s going to change the fabric of the whole community and bring things to a community of 15,000 to 20,000 that you don’t normally get in a town of 15,000 to 20,000.

"It brings in events, it brings in festivals, it brings in people, it brings in cache, it brings in everything and adds a lot to what you can do as a town.

"When you add all the natural setting we have and the fact that we’re 45 minutes from the greatest ski hill and 45 minutes from the greatest city it makes this a pretty neat place to be."

Strangway said the university has already enjoyed wonderful support from the Squamish community.

"We want this to be a University of Squamish not just a university in Squamish," Strangway said.

"We’re thinking we want this to be a university-centric town, much like how some towns are built around a golf course.

"It’s definitely a town that’s changing and evolving."

Strangway said he saw Squamish in the same light as Mount Allison in Sackville, New Brunswick.

"The Mount Allison people take great pride in their university and it’s become a feature of their town.

"These things can be very significant, especially in small towns."

The first construction started with the bridge over Mashiter Creek. The seven-month project was scheduled to commence on March 29.

Strangway anticipates the first phase of construction on the university itself will begin around June, with the academic, sports and recreation facilities and student residences due for completion in 2006.

"You’re looking at two phases: in the first phase there will be 600 students living and studying on campus and in the second phase we want to bring in a further 600 students."