Squamish is a town of characters. One indisputable character that we all have stories about and relationships with is dear ol’ 99. The Sea to Sky, or, See Them Die highway, is without a doubt an integral part of our community.
Much like the ferry is to island dwellers, our highway is a key ingredient in our culture. Sure we’re not entirely cut off, but there is an undeniable mental barrier making us close enough to the city to make the effort, yet far enough to make excuses.
99’s killer rep. comes from many things, mainly it’s the deadly driver-type combinations. Here we mix experienced commuters thinking they can easily drive 90 km/hr around every corner, with first timers afraid to go over 50, adding in the Whistler weekend drunks with a bad case of ‘vacation invincibility’ and presto: accidents waiting to happen.
For untold years there have been complaints that 99 needs to clean up it’s act. So here we are with our friend undergoing some very expensive elective surgery. No one’s saying the route didn’t need improvements, but your head has to be buried pretty deep to think the solution is to make more people drive faster.
Now 99 is getting a full face lift, boob job, and a fanny tuck. Much like those ill-thought out procedures, our highway is missing the point. The reason for the makeover is the Olympics™ having to transport thousands of people from Whistler to Vancouver. One without ties to oil companies would think that the answer is simple: utilize the rail line conveniently stretching the entire distance or even use Squamish’s deep sea port with a ferry service. Ah… but no.
It’s baffling, the lack of transportation from one of the countries largest cities to the continents premier ski resort a mere latte away. Unfortunately, any plan would need our provincial government support and they know people who take public transit either can’t afford a car or have decided life is better without a car. Either way, they’re not provincial Liberal voters so nuts to them. No, the people the province must please are the huge SUVs driving the highway blissfully unaware of the irony in having a ‘support our troops’ sticker on a gas tank. But say what you want about the little man in the big hummer, he has money, thinks global warming is hokum, and most importantly, he votes.
This of course leads to fears of what our friend the 99 will look like thru town. Well, the ‘consultation’s’ certainly gave you a feeling that decisions were already made. Lack of optimism is heightened by the insultingly arrogant Mal-Wart light which reinforces our reputation as a town that can be repeatedly screwed over.
Now, every drive on the 99 we can see the makeover in full effect complete with ill-conceived, sprawling communities like Furry Creek, Porteau and even developments from the Chief to Alice Lake. Each trip a reminder how hard it is to watch a friend ruin itself with bad habits.