District of Squamish highlights 2013 accomplishments

 

As a new year begins and budget discussions are well underway for 2014, the District of Squamish would like to share the results and accomplishments of a very busy 2013 to highlight many of the efforts underway on behalf of the Squamish community. A full Annual Report will be available later this spring.

Squamish is “open for business”

Squamish Council and staff have adopted an ‘open for business’ philosophy that permeates everything from improving internal processes to lobbying the Province for support.

  • Finalist in the 2013 Open for Business Awards - Squamish’s efforts to streamline permitting, focus on business retention and expansion, and improve customer service levels were recognized by the Province’s Minister of State for Tourism and Small Business.
  • First ever investment incentive program launched – encourages the construction or renovation of downtown commercial space or business park industrial space by providing tax breaks in the initial years of occupancy.
  • Façade Improvement Program launched – a partnership with the Downtown Squamish Business Improvement Area to provide grants for beautification improvements to buildings in the Downtown Business Improvement Area.
  • Unprecedented and diverse business investment interests –District of Squamish staff worked to support unprecedented and diverse third party business investment interests in 2013. Some of which include:
    • Sea to Sky Gondola Construction – This $25 million recreation attraction will open in 2014 and rank amongst the largest four per cent of employers in Squamish.
    • Quest University Expansion – The award winning university invested over $18 million into expanding accommodation capacity for over 200 new students and now employs over 100 people.
    • Woodfibre LNG Proposal – This project proposes to acquire a Squamish brownfield site for $25 million, remediate it, and invest another $1.6 billion into a new industrial export facility that will employ 100 people.
    • Squamish Valley Music Festival Expansion - An independent economic impact assessment of this year’s expanded event calculated over $9 million dollars of spending in Squamish which supported 94 full year jobs.
    • Oceanfront Development Negotiations – 2012/2013 international marketing efforts attracted developer investors negotiating to purchase the Oceanfront Development Lands.
  • The Development Services “Business Continuity Project” has been a big success in 2013 with improved development application processes, streamlined guides, responsive customer service, and vastly improved turn-around times.
  • Business Licence Process improvements have resulted in increased revenues over 2012 by 10 per cent to $191,478.01;
  • New Business Licences issued increased by five per cent over 2012 to 247 licences;
  • Launch of online Development Showcase has improved the ability for the public to review development applications and request Public Information Meetings from the comfort of their own computer;
  • Facilitated 33 development projects including several large projects such as Scott Crescent Development, Mireau, Crumpit Woods and Rivendale. Work included guiding projects from initiation to completion including reviewing servicing requirements, preparation and administration of Servicing Agreements for on-site and offsite works, and inspecting construction.

The film industry continues to grow with 26 film or television productions filming within District of Squamish boundaries in 2013, representing an 18 per cent increase over the record 22 productions in 2012.

  • 86 events were held in the District of Squamish in 2013 representing 181 days of events;
  • A new Film & Event Manager was hired to further leverage the events and film industries, and improve process and customer service to the community.

Mayor and Council spent a busy year promoting the economic and lifestyle benefits of Squamish through connections they made with senior levels of government at the provincial and federal level, as well as internationally:

  • Attended the 50th anniversary of sister city Shimizu Town, Japan;
  • Accompanied Premier Christy Clark’s trade mission to China;
  • Attended the Union of British Columbia Municipalities conference;
  • Hosted a Squamish-based meeting to discuss skills training with the Honourable Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour; Honourable Amrik Virk, Minister of Advanced Education; MLA Greg Kyllo, Parliamentary Secretary for the BC Jobs Plan: MLA Jordan Sturdy, West Vancouver – Sea to Sky.

Maintaining our Assets & Infrastructure

Since 2011, District Council and staff have been implementing the recommendations from the Public Works Asset Management Plan, Fleet and Equipment Long Term Plan and the Facility Condition Assessment Report. The reports evaluate Squamish's critical infrastructure and provide recommendations to guide the management and funding of the District's infrastructure asset base through the next 30 years. These reports guide the work of the District’s Engineering and Operations department, and resulted in the following achievements in 2013. 

  • 33 Development Reviews/service agreements, 26 Capital Projects, 11 long term plans;

Flood protection:

  • Whittaker Slough fish friendly tide gate;
  • Northyards dike upgrade;
  • Brackendale (Aikwucks Reserve) dike upgrade;
  • Electrical upgrades to Harris Slough to improve capacity;
  • River level monitoring station on Cheakamus Bridge;
  • Additional pump installed to increase capacity at Dryden Creek Pump station;
  • Full SCADA implementation at Dryden Creek pump station;
  • Brackendale Sinkhole repair;
  • Third Ave Tide Gates SCADA and instrumentation was upgraded; "blue sky mode";  a pilot project where more water is introduced to the estuary during times of extended good weather.

Water system:

  • Valleycliffe watermain replacement plus new Pressure Reducing Valve (PRV) station at McNaughton Park;
  • Cheakamus Place watermain replacement;
  • Mashiter Intake Sediment Removal;
  • Kingswood PRV upgrade increased fire flows to Brackendale;
  • Redeveloped water supply wells, significantly increasing the District's water supply capacity.
  • Began weekly water conservation/education program; launched new Outdoor Water Use Bylaw and water restrictions stages public awareness campaign.
  • Well Protection Plan planning completed; Powerhouse Well rehabilitation carried out;
  • Second Fill Station installed to provide customers a place to fill up with large volumes of water safely that doesn't put the district's hydrants or water systems at risk. The new station is on Production Way.
  • Began implementation of the new Cross Connection Control bylaw by inspecting Industrial, Commercial and Institutional customers’ plumbing to ensure the District's water is safe from contamination.

Sewer System:

  • Government Road trunk sewer Phase II;
  • New lift station at Depot Road;
  • Brackendale Inflow and Infiltration study. 

Landfill Environmental Upgrade/Waste Diversion:

  • All phases of the landfill site now have a liner in place that will keep all clean water out of contact with waste OR allow collection and treatment;
  • The Landfill Public Depot has been upgraded and paved, along with installation of a new scale. It is now easier and more convenient to reduce waste onsite;
  • New Residential Yard Waste collected and composted 269 tonnes of material in the first full year of the program. 

Roads and Bridges:

  • New Cheakamus Bridge deck overlay installed;
  • 13 roads paved for a total of 3,413m lineal metres of paving.  

Brennan Park:

  • Replaced lights in the arena as well as on the exterior walls and car park with LED lights to reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions;
  • Completed the final stage of Brennan Park Pool HVAC and boiler upgrades project to improve the quality of the air on the pool deck as well as reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions;
  • New signage, paint and decals, children’s activities etc. introduced to improve vibrancy.

Building a Strong Community

The District of Squamish supports the livability of the community to meet the demands of a growing and active population. Delivering recreation services, supporting trail infrastructure and transit improvements, and facilitating community engagement across municipal projects and activities are just some of the priorities that the District worked towards achieving in 2013.

  • Squamish Downtown Transformation Initiative has been highlighted by public outreach and engagement through webinars, downtown events series;
    • “Lot 1” acquisition and cleanup along Mamquam Blind Channel; ‘temporary’ park to open in early 2014 to provide public access to waterfront.
  • Transit improvements include additional transit service for weekends and holidays and a new service for Tantalus Road.
  • Communications/Community Engagement continues to improve with increased interactivity through new website, highlighting District news, projects, initiatives, Council meeting agendas and minutes, and ways to provide input through comments and surveys; Steadily increasing social media presence shares daily news and information through Facebook, Twitter, and weekly E-Newsletters.
  • Corridor Trail was extended from Valley Drive to Clarke Drive, with safety improvements completed along the length of the trail.
  • Recreation Services achievements:
    • 45% Increase in Aquatic Centre Rental Revenue;
    • 12% Increase in Swim Lesson participation over 2012 (22,682 participants);
    • 145,000 facility booking visitations (including field users);
      • 39% increase in participation in recreation program participation (38,500 participants, excluding aquatic program participation);
      • 25,000 pass holder visits (arena and pool);
      • 1,700 pass holders (arena and pool);
      • Created a culture of community collaboration and consultation:
        • Formed community work groups: Turf Field Opening (SSYS, Men’s Soccer), Mountain Bike Skills Park (SORCA);
        • Formed advisory groups for complex issues and broader-based policy and planning – fields, seniors, youth (underway), trails (underway);
    • Developed partnerships with community organizations to enhance and expand programs:
      • Vancouver Coastal Health – Neuro Health Program, Re-Fit Program, Seniors’ Health & Wellness Fair, Children’s Health Fair;
      • Big Brothers and Big Sisters – low cost/no cost programs created for youth boys and girls. Go Girls!, Game On!, Youth Speak Up event;
      • Youth Centre – Youth Night at the Rec Centre, Youth Speak Up event;
      • Sea to Sky Community Services – Children’s Health Fair;
      • Hot Spot - Recreation Centre orientation visits for Squamish Common Ground (a welcome centre for immigrants and newcomers).
    • Free Shaw Public WiFi service established for Brennan Park.
  • Squamish Fire Rescue Community Outreach:
    • Hot summer nights neighbourhood outreach, providing fire prevention information to adults and truck tours to the kids on summer weeknights.  
    • Home Safety/Smoke Alarm inspections targeted lower income and seniors’ residences to ensure they had working smoke alarms in their homes.  
  • Operations & Parks:
    • Won the Canadian Public Works Week award for community engagement (national award; communities under 75,000);
    • Implemented a Sidewalk Maintenance Policy to formalize the annual inspection of sidewalks and the necessary repairs;
    • New tie downs at Airport and new area was cleared for additional aircraft parking;
    • Braemar Park playground upgrade completed (the last of 10 playgrounds to be replaced on a five-year plan).

Responsible Provision of Services

The District is constantly improving the level of service it provides in a financially prudent way. Here are just some of the ways staff have been working towards the responsible provision of services in 2014.

  • Collaborative Budgeting for 2014 - Brought the financial plan 2014 to Council in November 2013, significantly earlier than usual to allow for greater collaboration and input.
  • Customer Service Project – Policy and guidelines developed, presentation/training provided to staff regarding ‘Delivering Outstanding Service’ (DOS) at the District of Squamish and Staff Recognition program launched.  A survey was launched in September to determine how the level of service is provided and a follow up survey will be launched in six months, with an annual survey following to ensure continued monitoring and evaluation of customer service.
  • Information Technology Upgrades to the District’s Network infrastructure that spans offices at 13 sites, now connected by ‘wired’ Telco lines and backup radio links.
  • Employee Contracts and Benefits Costs:
    • Bargained a new contract with CUPE through to December 31, 2015. Savings will result from a cap placed on access to benefits and moderate wage increases (2013: 1.75%, 2014: 1.76%, 2015: 2%);
    • Bargained a new contract with the IAFF;
    • Review of benefits provider has resulted in reductions to employee benefit costs of 22.4%.
  • Records and Information Management Program was established, formalizing policies and procedures under which District records are managed.
  • Community Parks mowing program sees all of the community parks mowed weekly with one crew during the heavy growing season. This took a few years to perfect and is now very efficient and effective.

2014 has come in with a bang with the launch of the Squamish Brand Enhancement and Marketing Action Plan Project, ongoing budget deliberations, and work to accommodate an expanded Squamish Valley Music Festival, among many other projects.

We look forward to sharing our progress with the community throughout the year. Stay tuned to our website, Facebook page, Twitter feed and E-News, and send us your feedback and comments any time.  

 

 

January 16, 2014

Post your comment

Comments

  • sarah f Mar 9, 2014 8:51 AM (6 years ago)

    taking out the bridge in McNaughton park that gets used hundreds of times a day without notice or explanation is not 'delivering outstanding service'. in fact, it shows a complete disregard for residents. Or it shows that the muni really is overstaffed and are looking for make-work projects at our expense. someone said the guy taking it out said it was a 'liability issue'. No it wasn't - a simple sign saying use at your own risk and/or risk not assumed by District of Squamish would have fixed that.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments