By Cindy Filipenko
After two years of studies to prove the feasibility of their proposed Porteau Cove development, the Squamish Nation and Concord Pacific received the green light from the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.
Chief Bill Williams and Concord’s Matthew Mead were on hand at the Dec. 19 SLRD meeting. Both men were clearly pleased with the board’s reaction to planning consultant Susan Stratis’s presentation.
The development, which will build out at 1,400 homes, is located in the southern most area of the SLRD, just south of Porteau Cove Provincial Park. First brought to the SLRD’s attention in 2004, the Squamish Nation and Concord Pacific partnership, known as Porteau Cove Developments, has since undertaken extensive research and studies to support the feasibility of its project.
Geotechnical, environmental, traffic impact, governance, residential development, fire protection and sustainability issues are highlighted in more than a dozen studies. The land, consisting of nine individual parcels, is characterized by steep terrain and a complicated network of creeks. Much of the site is currently in a naturally wooded state. Because of the difficult geography the development will consist of 23 per cent single-family homes and 77 per cent multi-family dwellings. The offshoot of this will be minimal tree removal and capitalization of the area’s natural beauty. As well, a network of trails and walkways will connect residential and commercial properties.
Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed, an early-advocate of sustainability, called the project, “Wonderful.”
Melamed did question the development’s power source and whether recycling waste heat from the sewage treatment plant and run of river energy solutions had been considered.
“These things are very hard to retrofit,” cautioned Melamed.
Stratis assured Melamed that localized energy sources were being considered by the developer and would appear in the development’s infrastructure plan, due in February.
Asked about whether or not geothermal heat sources had been fully explored, Stratis said that they had, but had proved unfeasible.
“You need more temperature extremes to make it economical. For example, Kamloops is well-suited to take advantage of geothermal heating,” she explained.
Director John Turner questioned the amount of parking the developer had allocated.
“The norm in Furry Creek, where I live, is two spaces per home,” said Turner, who felt the allocation of 1.5 parking spaces was inadequate.
“If you have a professional couple who are both commuters they both need a car.”
However, thanks to a planned 15,000 square foot retail area in the development’s centre, residents will not have to get in their vehicles when they need to “get a quart of milk or a bottle of wine.” As well, a gas station, incorporating a unique design featuring natural elements, such as rough-hewn timber and stone, will be an important community amenity and act as an entrance to the development.
While the community itself will not offer many jobs, developers hope that it will attract many people who work at home. As well, secondary suites and B&Bs will be permitted in owner-occupied townhouses.
The development, which will offer residents mountain and ocean vistas, will not have any waterfront, as CN rail tracks follow the coast.