For as long as I can remember Squamish has been a joke to outsiders. This used to suit us just fine as it kept people away and allowed us to develop our paradise at our own pace.
Now however, the pressure is on and although people still see us as a joke, no one is laughing. Where to begin? We could start with the biggest development boom ever and we have no building inspector. But that’s ok, since we’re honestly trusting developers to do right by us rather than their bank accounts.
Then there’s Squamish with less than three years until we host the Olympics™ and we’re no farther ahead then we were seven years ago. Most of us have now realized the Olympic™ steamroller will definitely line some pockets, but by in large, our town will simply be left flat.
What is perhaps the biggest thorn in my side however is the trail issue. It’s been several years since we proudly proclaimed ourselves ‘ The Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada’. In that time much lip service has been paid but the amount of money where the mouth is has been downright laughable.
Today there are untold magazine articles and publications encouraging the world to come ride our ‘world class network of trails’. Sadly, as it stands today, our trails are absolutely unrideable due to the horrific wind storm that swept through the last few months. Yet the District continues to put the word out that we are the ORCC while relying solely on untrained, abused volunteers to do all the work.
On the bright side one might look to the recent trail work in Merrill park and thank their lucky stars that the District refuses to touch trails. Here, 16 danger trees needed to be removed from this classic walk in the park. The solution? A legally questionable logging show that left the trail absolutely decimated. This of course beautifully highlights how we must stop letting our trail strategies just collect dust. Back in the day this sort of action was tolerable, as was only working on trails after someone broke their neck.
However, today we have indisputable proof that mountain
biking alone generates millions of dollars for our community. Not hundreds,
or thousands, but millions. Yet do we have one single person on the ground
working on these trails? No, and frankly it’s embarrassing. Council
(not to mention the Province) are slowly realizing this, but they must
wake up and realize that action must be swift. Especially since there
is so much promotion going into the trails. With encouragement but no
maintenance we’re just asking for an inevitable, well deserved lawsuit.
Council is absolutely right to want to capitalize on the millions of dollars
flowing into our community, but they must immediately give back by allocating
funds to create a trail crew in this year’s budget. Otherwise we
are just waiting until someone cripples themselves on the trails to receive
funding, and frankly, that joke just isn’t funny anymore.