By Andrew Mitchell
With no permits, pending permits, or other applications for development in the works, the District of Squamish has issued a cease and desist order to a local company that started to clearcut a site on the west side of the Squamish bluffs to the south of town.
The district is now investigating the incident, which violated Squamish bylaws, and a report on the incident is expected to be presented to council by mid-April or early May. Under the law, the landowner could be subject to a fine of up to $5 million for cutting approximately 500 trees from the 10-hectare site.
Mayor Ian Sutherland said he was disappointed with the company, Malamute Holdings Ltd., who he said has been a strong member of the community in the past.
“For the most part it’s a very sound local citizen that owns the company, which is why it’s a bit disappointing that it’s come to this. It’s a bit out of character from what we usually see.”
The bylaw for trees cut down without a permit in district boundaries is $1,000 to $10,000 per tree, and the most recent estimates suggest that over 500 trees have been felled. The site is visible from the highway.
It’s unknown whether workers intended to log the entire 10 hectare site before they were issued a cease and desist order.
The District of Squamish was first alerted to the cut by locals, and then reacted as soon as possible.
Mayor Sutherland says he has no idea why the trees were cut down.
“There was no application, and it was done without the proper permit. In the district we have a site alteration bylaw… and one reason for the site alteration and permit is so we know what the plans are for a site. There’s a whole process that was circumvented, that was the owner’s legal requirement.”
Climbers have been using the site to access a climbing area on the west side of the highway. It was known that the site was slated for future development.