Housing Mythbusters

Myth 1: We don’t have the infrastructure to accommodate all of the new developments in Squamish.
The District of Squamish has developed the Official Community Plan and a series of master plans to guide appropriate population growth.

One of our primary concerns is to manage the costs associated with maintaining and building infrastructure. Increased infill housing spreads the costs of infrastructure across more residents, thereby reducing the cost-per-person; which, in turn, allows property taxes to remain as low as possible.

In addition, District policy is to ensure that growth pays for growth. This means that developers rezone land parcels, they are responsible for installing infrastructure to accommodate the development, and contributing community amenities. Doing this ensures that the cost of growth is not being passed down to taxpayers.

 

Myth 2: Allowing neighbourhood infill is going to remove access to our recreational areas and new developments will impact undeveloped public land.
A common misconception is that the infill development boom in Squamish is encroaching upon our greenspaces and recreational zones. However, the reality is that building is taking place on private land that was already zoned for development.

We can’t stop the growth, but we can ensure that it takes place within our existing footprint. In fact, there is enough land within our growth management boundary to support a population growth of 34,000 (The Statistics Canada growth estimate for 2020 was 23,335).

Building more multi-family residences (such as townhomes, duplexes, triplexes and apartments) in our neighbourhoods means that we can make the most of the planned developments and accommodate population growth within our existing footprint, rather than sprawling outward and developing on the natural assets that surround Squamish.

 

Myth 3: More development is going to create more traffic and parking issues, which leads to difficulty getting around.
While Squamish has traditionally been a car-centric community, this is not sustainable for the planet. Transportation in cars and trucks accounts for 52% of our community’s greenhouse gas emissions. We need to come together as a community to reduce our impact on climate change and change our behaviours.

The way our neighbourhoods are built affects our transportation behaviours—and our vision for the broader community is to shift beyond the car by creating neighbourhood nodes with parks, childcare, and daily amenities within a short walking distance.

Our Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP) outlines a strategy to provide more active and public transportation options for Squamish residents so they can reduce dependency on their vehicles. Neighbourhood infill allows us to fund infrastructure like bike and walking paths and reliable public transit. This is echoed in the CCAP.

 

Myth 4: A focus on “missing middle” infill housing forms rather than using land for single-family units will drive up the price of homes and make them unaffordable.
The missing middle refers to the mid-range housing options like row houses, townhomes, co-housing, or walk-up apartment buildings. There will always be a place for single-family homes in Squamish. However, with the projected growth in our community, neighbourhood infill housing is the best way to create a resilient and liveable community, accommodate resident housing needs, and retain key recreation and environmental areas.

 In Squamish, single-family homes account for 44% of our housing inventory—much higher than in Whistler (13%) and Pemberton (30%). We can’t keep building single-family homes in hopes that the housing prices will go down.

 Managing housing growth in Squamish is a balancing act. We want to avoid sprawling into greenspace and recreational areas and keep costs as low as possible while infrastructure needs increase. We also need to provide affordable housing for a diverse range of incomes.

The best way to address all of the needs is to diversify our housing supply by integrating more housing forms within our existing neighbourhoods.