Whistler business owners got a good look this week at what the Squamish waterfront might look like if developed as the community wants.
But they also learned that hopes of having shovels in the ground this year and substantial completion by 2010 is unlikely.
"I am looking at a time frame of 10 to 20 years for build out," said Mike Chin, chief executive officer of the Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation. "We could be selling lands at the very earliest late next fall. Building could start as early as very late next fall, but more likely it will be the spring of 2007.
"I often get the question is it going to be built by 2010, and I think that would be pretty aggressive to do that."
Chin said its not just the building schedule that will affect how quickly the area gets developed. There are also "absorption issues" because of the development happening within Squamish and up and down the corridor.
Chin said key concepts of the development would include an urban village, seawalk, green spaces and a mix of commercial and residential housing in the same area.
"I think we really have to capitalize on the magnificence of this location," said Chin, who worked on both the Concorde and Bayshores developments in Vancouver. "It is a powerful dramatic site."
The original plan drawn up through a community and expert charette envisioned a commuter ferry terminal, housing for up to 5,000 and a marina.
Chin said it was likely the density would be quite a bit lower and unless they could dredge there was no where to locate a marina. Discussions are on-going with private companies about the possibility of a passenger ferry.
The district is also looking at how to connect the area to Highway 99 and the downtown core.
Chin said it was vital that clear and easily accessible transportation routes existed into the development to encourage both residents and visitors to use the amenities.
In all there is about 59 acres of land and 44 acres of water lots. Chin hopes to get the masterplan stage finished by the end of this January.
The process got a needed boost last year when the province handed over part of the waterfront to the District of Squamish. Squamish council created the Squamish Waterfront Development Corporation to handle future development.
The Squamish Downtown Waterfront Initiative will be guided by sustainability and "smart growth" principles that promote integrated consideration of economic, environmental and social objectives in an open and inclusive process.