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The year in Squamish

A look back at 2012



The year past was one of change for Squamish. As it began so did the work of a mostly newly elected district government.

There were three new councillors and a new mayor — and for the first time in many years, Corrine Lonsdale wasn't sitting at the council table. She opted not to seek re-election after 25 years of public service.

Half way through the new council's first year in office the seven community leaders learned they needed to find a new chief administrative officer (CAO) — a key position in any local government. Corien Speaker was hired as the new CAO.

On January 10, Lonsdale was given the community's highest honour and presented with the Freedom of the Municipality.

Two key District of Squamish hires also took place in January. Tim Hoskins was hired as Squamish's Director of Recreation Services, then a few days later Ella-Fay Zalezsak was hired as the new Library Director.

The year got off to a paranormal start when strange lights were seen over the community in the first week of January. The military reported a few days later that the strange lights were part of an effort to get a search and rescue helicopter to the Casper Creek area to help in the rescue of Whistler Ski Patroller Duncan MacKenzie after he was killed in an avalanche.

Last year's Brackendale Eagles count was not encouraging. A lower than average number of the raptors were found during the annual community eagle count on Jan. 8, 2012.

"I believe it is the fish farms that are to blame," said Thor Froslev, the owner of the Brackendale Art Gallery and host of the count.

According to Froslev, sea lice originating from coastal fish farms are infecting native salmon and that is reducing salmon returns, which in turn has led to a reduced number of eagles visiting each winter.

Meanwhile, MP John Weston brought federal fisheries and oceans minister Keith Ashfield to the Sea to Sky corridor on Jan. 11 to learn more about salmon issues in the area. Ashfield toured the Tenderfoot Fish Hatchery and the spawning habitat at the North Vancouver Outdoor School. Local fish advocates hoped the visit would prompt the minister to provide funding to preserve more habitat for salmon in the Cheakamus River watershed.

It was learned in February that the population of Squamish grew by 14.6 per cent between 2006 and 2011, making it the town in B.C. with the largest growth percentage between census periods. With a population of more than 17,000, Squamish now has to cover almost all the policing costs incurred by the RCMP, a community cost increase of about $900,000.

Cougars caused concerns for Brackendale and Cheekeye area residents in March. An adult male that attacked a dog was destroyed and a second cougar was hit and killed by a car near Furry Creek.