The remark is usually made when simply looking up. With 360 degrees of majestic alpine splendor on the Pacific Ocean, it doesn't take long for the Squamish fever to strike. Then, before you know it you catch yourself saying: "This town is going to go off!"
The first hundred or so times I heard those familiar words, a fire would start under me that would predictably ignite my "why Squamish is the best place in the world" speech. After the second millionth time I realized, sure it will go off but we may be waiting a while. In fact the more you look around the more you realize that there are far too many people in Squamish who have literally seen decades fly by all the while thinking "Any minute now?"
So why has Squamish gone so long under the radar? Vision, or as some would argue, lack thereof. For years Squamish had a clear and unbeatable vision of industry and it worked like a hot damn. Squamolians were well-fed and looked after for generations. Within the past few years, however, that vision has become more like a hallucination.
The trouble started around when the council of the day surprisingly turned their back on industry by messing with their park. The Industrial Park was created to get heavy industry out of downtown and off the waterfront while still inviting good paying blue-collar jobs to our town.
Next thing you know, they change vision gears again and re-name it the Business Park with loud trucks and big machines forced to co-exist with hotel guests enjoying their stay. It was to be a new era of rampant highway development while ignoring the downtown. You can see the fruits of their labour now with all the bustling activity misplaced on the highway and the ever-looming Wal-Mart re-zoning vote.
However, the downtown has refused to die, so now we're left with a defeatable Wal-Mart and other shopping giants threatening to take up acres of land and that was originally planed for good paying factory work.
I'm certainly not against shopping. Lord knows we need shopping alternatives; but I sincerely believe that we can be better than just another big box cookie-cutter highway town.
Is it too late to stop the Industrial Park insanity? Well, the most recent move by council to stop a bank and Starbucks from going in gives one surprising hope. Sure, that hotel should never have been put there, but if what you see now is the full extent of the Business Park damage then we should consider ourselves lucky.
Unfortunately, now we're left with the delicate task of convincing developers that we're no longer wishy-washy re-zoning happy yokels. Might I suggest telling them that we have a vision and we're not afraid to use it?
After all, if you're not going to stick to your guns how can you fire them?