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Retail industry preparing for 2010 Games



From Squamish’s waterfront development to new concepts in urban centres, industry optimistic

The future development of Squamish was a hot topic at the most recent International Conference of Shopping Centres, held annually in Whistler.

"(Participants) wanted to know what was going on, what opportunities existed, and where they could follow up and look at what opportunities could be made available to them," said Lee Malleau, economic development officer for Squamish who attended the conference.

"It was very encouraging."

Squamish is currently involved in a huge revitalization project of the downtown and waterfront area.

Local council is setting up a Squamish Waterfront Development Corporation to oversee the plans for 80 acres of property the town will control on the waterfront.

Planners are up against a tight deadline as it’s hoped it will all be in place for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, which will be held in Whistler and Vancouver.

One piece of the puzzle that must be in place is the construction of a ferry dock. Many of the spectators for the Games, and supplies, will arrive by boat from Vancouver and then travel on buses or freight trucks for the rest of the trip to Whistler, which is hosting the majority of the snow events.

"So while we are going through the process of acquiring the land we are also setting up the Development Corporation and also going through an extensive public process," said Malleau.

"That public process will help produce for us the kind of components we would like to see developed on the waterfront."

In the coming days Squamish has also invited stakeholders to sit down and take part in full day planning sessions on the development.

"The intent is to take all the information generated through the public process, including the values that people want to incorporate into the decision making process, and produce with a variety of architects and engineers a detailed concept plan of what we want to see."

The plan is likely to include a full service marina, passenger ferry terminal, a cruise ship berth, an arts centre downtown, generous public access with a seawall and green spaces, some fairly high-density residential areas, and perhaps even a waterfront hotel and convention centre.

The plan will be completed by the end of March and it is hoped it will go to council April 6, said Malleau.

"It is very exciting," she said.

"But it is also very challenging because of the time line. It is a wonderful opportunity for the community of Squamish though to reinvent itself and re-look at what it wants to be when it grows up.