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Feature - Squamish politics head in New Directions with coalition

Lack of action by current council a driving force behind new political organization

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"The biggest issue for me over the last decade is the inaction from municipal hall on downtown development and the development of the waterfront," said Fenn.

"The Downtown 2000 plan has not even been adopted by council and the reason for that has never been made public. A vital and vibrant downtown is absolutely critical to any community. The result of the inaction by council is that something like 40 businesses have closed in the downtown area.

"According to B.C. Stats for the last five years, there has been 80 per cent growth in Pemberton, 30 per cent growth in Whistler, and less than one per cent growth in Squamish. From an economic point of view, we’ve been doing lousy business. There is an economic boom in the corridor but we’ve missed it. We need more people working locally to sustain us."

Ian Sutherland

Sutherland is a graduate of the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton and belongs to several professional organizations. He is the co-owner of a company that publishes and sells educational books to schools and colleges across North America.

"I got more involved as the wood chip issue went on," said Sutherland. "But the bigger issue, when you pay attention to what is going on at city hall, is that there are too many studies and not enough action. There is a lack of vision. The level of debate is less than desirable. And there is the perception that who you are when you walk in the door dictates the reception you get from the staff and mayor.

"We’ve got to let proposed projects be decided on their own merit, not on who brings them to the table. We have a good quality staff, but there is a perception that staff doesn’t get things done quickly enough for the community. But the fact is that staff has not been allowed to act.

"Council changes its priorities so often what was number one last week is number 5 this week. They can’t work under those conditions. We have to rely on staff expertise, give them clear direction, and we can develop a positive attitude. This is a $27 million business at city hall and you can’t run it like a coffee club."