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Squamish council clarifies position on LNG

Council briefs: music fest gets more permits and branding exercise continues

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Squamish council made it clear this week that it hasn't yet taken a position for, or against, a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility at the former Woodfibre pulp mill site on Howe Sound.

Councillor Patricia Heintzman felt she needed to clarify that after a call went out last week for volunteers to serve on a community committee that will advise District of Squamish (DOS) staff on the Woodfibre LNG proposal.

"I want to make sure it's clear that council has not taken a position on this — has not supported it in principle," said Heintzman.

A letter to council members suggesting council clarify its position prompted Heintzman.

The committee being formed is to be made up of a Squamish Nation member, a Squamish Chamber of Commerce representative, someone from Squamish Terminals and representatives of the tourism industry, cultural groups, and environmental groups, along with six members at large. The committee is tasked with objectively assessing the LNG project and providing input to the project proponents and DOS staff.

"The role of the committee really is to decipher a lot of information by getting information from different sources," said Randy Stoyko, the DOS general manager of business and community services.

Mayor Rob Kirkham said the committee is being put together to help the DOS have an informed debate.

Music fest gets permits

Two more key permits have been granted to the Squamish Valley Music Festival. The festival organizers got school district approval recently to use the school fields at Mamquam Elementary and Squamish Elementary as campgrounds, but DOS approval was needed to finalize the arrangement.

That approval was granted Tuesday, April 15 when the members of Squamish council granted the festival a temporary use permit paving the way for up to 4,300 people to set up camp at Squamish Elementary, with another 2,100 people at Mamquam Elementary. The Mamquam site is to be an alcohol-free area with a section of the campground designated as a quiet zone for families.

These two sites will accommodate only a small percentage of the total number of campers expected to visit Squamish between August 7 and 11. Two larger sites were approved last month for camping in the Squamish Business Park. Clearing of those sites is currently underway.

Sarah McJannet, the DOS acting director of planning, said the festival campers will have to follow a few rules.

"The rules of the camping are that there's no vehicles, pets, amplified music, alcohol sales, no barbecues or open flames and smoking only in designated and staff areas," said McJannet.

Residents who live near the two schools expressed concerns over noise, garbage, traffic congestion, vandalism and drug use.

The festival Aug. 8 to 10 will feature Eminem, Arcade Fire and Bruno Mars.

Search is on for brand leaders

The District of Squamish is moving on to the second phase of its brand development process.

A brand development committee has almost completed its work, so a new group of volunteers is being brought together to implement plans put together by the development committee with branding consultant Rogers Brooks.

The Squamish Brand Leadership Team (BLT) will oversee the installation of signs and way-finding systems, work with partners and community groups to promote Squamish's brand and help integrate the branding messages throughout the community.

The marketing messages are still being finalized, but a preview event hosted by Brooks indicated new messaging will focus on Squamish as a multi-sport destination where epic adventures await.

Interested volunteers are being asked to apply for a spot on the committee. Application letters of up to 250 words should be sent to the district's economic development office by the end of the day on April 30.

Budget passes

A five-year financial plan that will increase residential taxes by an average of just over five per cent was given first two readings at council's Tuesday meeting.

The budget document for the year ahead is the product of months of debate and discussion. Through the budget process the DOS used social media tools to encourage public participation and feedback on the specifics of the plan.

When the budget discussion began, finance staff suggested an increase in the order of 10 per cent to maintain services while mayor Kirkham asked that staff deliver with an initial plan that wouldn't increase municipal taxes.

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