Summary of All-Candidates Meeting
We’d like to encourage you to exercise your democratic rights and consider the trails when you’re voting in the upcoming municipal election. We encourage all of our members to learn how the candidates stand on our key issues and take that into consideration when voting.
On Wednesday, September 26th, SORCA hosted an Outdoor Recreation All-Candidates Meeting where recreation user groups and members of the public were able to talk with candidates about their questions and concerns about outdoor rec issues. We had representation from climbers, dirt bikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, yachters, wind sports, hikers, general enthusiasts, and many more. Each group was able to form a table to ask candidates their sport-specific questions.
We had two SORCA tables asking questions specific to mountain biking and the trails. Below is a brief re-cap of how the candidates replied to our concerns. It was difficult to record all of their points and unfortunately in the short time we had with each candidate we were not able to discuss all of the issues.
If you have any questions, please feel free to either get in touch with us at SORCA or contact the candidates directly.
Issues addressed were:
- Suggestions for how the District can preserve recreational access to trails and lands
- New OCP policies including:
- The possibility of increasing the annual allowable cut of timber resources around Squamish, and how the District can or should balance this industry with the growing value of recreation
- Maintaining an integrated and connected multi-use recreational trail network, and creating a”Trail Advisory Panel”
- Developing a sustainable funding source for trail network maintenance and enhancement – currently the Districtis providing money through the grant-in-aid process for 2018-2020 but we feel that trail maintenance is just as important as maintaining the soccer fields, ice rink, swimming pool and playgrounds. We wonder if there are alternative ways of securing this funding for SORCA to maintain the trails after 2020, e.g. through a budget line item.
**Note that not all candidates made it to both SORCA tables due to time constraints, so questions answered may vary.**
Susan advocates for a Trail Coordinator position at the District as a line item in the budget, and would support a Trail Advisory Panel. She believes collaborating with all users and levels of government is important, as well as partnership with land owners. She advocates for respecting logging practices, and believes existing setbacks are adequate when logging to leave buffers next to trails. Also in favor of public private partnerships to cover huge infrastructure needs in town.
Jeff supports building relationships with the province, while still receiving funding from the district. Another key avenue for funding is donations from visitors, and a potential revenue relationship with Tourism Squamish. He feels the logging issue comes down to relationships – we should continue to negotiate with BC timber sales. The Community Forest will help with a balance between uses. He would also encourage active/outdoors rec companies to set up shop in town and get them to help influence decisions.
Karen shared that the current funding model has always been restricted to grant-in-aid due to legalities. There have been talks about a funding model coming from SRLD instead of the District, which she supports. The District does have a bit more say over our “view scape” and are also working with Squamish Nation to create a community forest which would give more control over land. She would support at trail panel, which would help bring a holistic view of all the trails, and help councillors to understand the value of different trails.
Paul doesn’t believe they can make trail maintenance a permanent line item in the budget because there are many groups that want the same thing and need funding. However, he is a big supporter of biking and SORCA, and was on council when they gave the funds for the Legacy trail.
Eric feels the district should have a major stake in the mandate and programming of the provincial land agencies, and could play an advocacy role in partnership with other agencies. Through the new community forest governance model, the DOS can bring more organizations to the table around logging, and have communication built into the process. He advocates for active forest infrastructure, and says the interface will have to increase, because tree farm licenses legally have to be logged. He recognizes that there is a deficit in support for tourism and recreation, and would like to see a line item in the budget for trails based on the example of the current relationship with the Squamish Arts Council. He would support a Trail Committee, and would like to see one for active transportation and one for backcountry/mtn bike trails.
Edward would like to work with the province to create trail reserve areas, and believes in collective solutions to secure trails with Tourism Squamish and the Squamish Nation. He feels logging is a sustainable industry, and is one of the more sustainable methods of building, so there should be conversations with industry and recreation at the table to find balance. He would support a Trail Advisory Committee, which should review trails being put forward by developers as part of CACs. Would also like to see DOS, businesses and neighbourhoods work together on a Trails Master Plan. He’s not familiar with the details of the budgeting process, but would like to see a long term funding solution for the trails.
Phil advocates for stewardship of the land, and his understanding is a lot of the trails are on private land so we need to maintain good relationships with land owners. He’d like to see zones preserved from logging, but without logging we wouldn’t have the roads for access to create new trails, so there needs to be a happy medium. Change has to happen at the provincial level so that’s where advocacy needs to happen. He would support a Trail Committee, and would like a better trail system for getting around town, with improved lighting, etc. This would involve consultation with community members and experts, and cohesive amenity packages from developers. He 100% supports a budget line item for trail maintenance.
Ron is a self-professed ‘problem solver’ who would advocate to move District boundaries to get more land for trails. He is not a big supporter of logging, he thinks clear cuts aren’t cleaned up fast enough, and cuts are through streams.
Paul believes parking is an issue for a lot of access points, and would like to create more parking to make access readily available. With regards to logging, he’d like to see clear cut areas cleaned up, and trees replanted.
Sacha believes trails are an integral part of our community and need the funding to be maintained. He doesn’t think the grant-in-aid program is necessarily the best option, and would like to find a solution that is in the best interest of stakeholders long term, but isn’t sure it’s a budget line item. First step would be to get SORCA and trails integrated in the strategic plan that Council puts together in their first few months. He feels logging should be done with consultation with stakeholders. He would definitely support a trail panel, as he believes the experts need to be brought to the table in a collaborative process.
John would support a motion for a Trail Advisory Panel and would bring it forward. He would like to see a trail that runs through the whole District that has protection. Would like to see more trail head amenities, and decrease disruption to neighbourhoods. He would prefer to see trail maintenance funded through a line item, rather than through grant-in-aid. DOS funds soccer, baseball fields, etc., and trail network should be treated equally as community asset. He’d like to see Air BnB owners get business licenses at minimum, and have part of revenues go to trail maintenance.
Stephen advocates for mutually beneficial partnerships with land owners and the Squamish Nation. He would like to create a Recreation Commission to guide how Squamish plans for and maintains recreation assets and infrastructure, and would definitely support a Trail Advisory Committee. Feels logging is a sustainable industry, and should be guided by partnerships. He thinks economic impact of biking and trails has been demonstrated, and that there should be a line item in the budget rather than through granting.
Alanna feels the district needs to work with the province to ensure the trails are protected and taken care of – she would like to protect access and the integrity of the environment. Understands that there are many competing priorities in the budget, and would need to look at larger process to see what makes sense. She believes a lot of work went into the OCP and that the policies that were created took into account the impact of logging and included community consultation.
Rajan supports bringing all parties to the table – community groups and governments – using the Community Forest Agreement to find a balance between logging and trails/access. Feels funding for groups like SORCA should reflect economic value they bring to community.
Armand feels the best way to preserve and enhance trails and access is to continue to empower the volunteer organizations. He advocates for continued funding for SORCA with more solidified and longer-term agreements, and wants to work with other groups like Tourism Squamish to capitalize on provincial mountain bike promotions. He’d also like to see the Trail Coordinator position brought back at the District. He feels there are currently good relationships with the logging companies, and wants to continue with those relationships.
Kevin suggests asking for rights of way on the lands, and making use of lands that aren’t being development to enhance the trail network. He wants to see the trails preserved, and questions why logging needs to be close to trails when there is so much logging available in the general area. He would support a trail panel, and would like to see integration with the OCP and other plans. Agrees that funding should be secured that is commensurate with effort and value being put into trails, but isn’t familiar enough with budget process to promise anything, and notes that many groups would like a budget line item.
Rick suggests exploring partnerships with land owners to protect access for community and visitors. He wants to find a balance between mountain biking and logging where both can thrive, and would maintain setbacks for logging near trails.
Janice is a listener, and would bring all stakeholders to the table, making sure to listen to SORCA as the experts, before making any decisions. She believes SORCA has already done a good job collaborating with logging industry. Needs more information to make decision about funding, but thinks SORCA should not have to ask for money each year.
Lee believes council should work with Tourism Squamish and Destination BC to collaborate on projects like signage, and secure more funding, particularly from the increase in the hotel tax, and from AirBnB. Would support a line item in the budget for trail maintenance for all trails. He supports logging industry which he feels is important in small towns, but would like to build relationships with the province to slow logging, and not to take out a whole trail network at one time.
Bianca believes that issue around land use should be deferred to the province, since many trails are on crown land. She believes loggers can be advocates for mountain bike trails too. She is a big supporter of Tourism Squamish, and wants to work together on trailhead amenities. She would support a Trail Advisory Committee. She feels there are many competing priorities and everyone wants a line item in the budget, so she needs to better understand the trail maintenance budget
Chris is generally supportive of a trail advisory panel, on the condition that it’s actually effective, and has consensus about who should sit on it. He would like to be able to provide a stable and predictable investment to trail maintenance given mountain biking’s economic value, and would like to see more of this coming through local business, but can’t guarantee the mechanism.
Doug noted that there was a constraint in previous request for line item funding, because many of the trails are outside district boundaties. With grant-in-aid, SORCA has more freedom in spending. Would like to see funding coming from SLRD. He believes the Community Forest is advantageous because it allows logging but sets boundaries and gives some more power to community. Logging outside of DOS boundaries is outside of District control. Not against a trail advisory panel, but thinks something like a recreation commission would have more teeth.
Jenna feels it is important to show how SORCA has monetized the trails, and balance what the value of the trails is vs other rec opportunities (such as 20 million for new ice rink) when it comes to budgeting. She thinks it is important to bring both recreation and logging stakeholders to the table to determine impacts on the trails. Would be interested in reinstating Trail Coordinator as a point person, and sees the value of a panel for getting feedback from user groups.
Mike advocates for bringing private lands owners, crown land, and provincial & federal governments to work towards the same goals, with respect to preserving trails and access, and with respect to the logging industry. He’d like to see the Corridor Trail extended into all neighbourhoods, using CACs from developments. He supports continued funding, and would like to raise more funds through AirBnB taxes, and specific recreation taxes.