Squamish is amazing.
Squamish is a special place. The people of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw have known that since time immemorial and I am thankful for the opportunity to live within their traditional territory. Municipal elections are an opportunity for each of us to choose who we believe will make decisions in the best interest of the communities we live in and the communities we live with. To serve in local government carries a responsibility to listen to everyone, get informed on the issues, and make decisions on matters that impact people every day. If you give me the opportunity to serve, I promise to serve Squamish by holding myself to these three personal standards of conduct:
open and humble community consultation
informed and respectful debate
timely and transparent decision making
The Council directs many aspects of our community and must prioritize resources to help make Squamish an amazing place to live for all members of our community in both the present and the future. If you give me the opportunity to serve Squamish, I promise to prioritize:
fiscally and environmentally sustainable infrastructure
fair and responsible development zoning
reasonable and reliable recreation amenities
My views on some current issues.
Our Council does a lot more than deliver on a short list of campaign promises and, as we all know, many campaign promises go unfilled. So rather than making promises on things that will not be entirely in my control, I will share my views on some current issues. If you have an opinion on any of these issues, or if you would like me to include my view on an issue that is important to you, please email me. I look forward to hearing and learning from you.
I have a list of responses to questions I have received in my FAQ page.
Housing affordability is a complex issue. Part of the reason that Squamish is such an expensive place to live is that Squamish is such an amazing place to live. People want to live here and are willing to pay for the ability to live in such an amazing place. Unfortunately, this has also led to people not being able to afford to live here.
What control does Council have on housing affordability? I believe the most direct control Council has on housing affordability in the long term is zoning. By allocating a balance of sizes and styles of housing options through zoning the Council can work toward maintaining a supply of housing that attempts to keep pace with demand.
As a scientist, there is no question in my mind that the Earth's climate is changing due to the greenhouse gases that humans are producing. As a single citizen, I am uncertain about the things that I can do that will affect meaningful change without sacrificing what I consider to be a reasonable standard of living. While I support the Community Climate Action Plan, I recognize that not everyone in our community will be able to move beyond a car and that stricter environmental regulations on buildings will increase the cost of those buildings. We must move toward carbon neutrality while acknowledging the compromises we are making in the process.
I absolutely believe that emissions of greenhouse gasses are causing our climate to change in ways that are having an increasingly devastating impact on our planet. The IPCC reports are clear that society needs to move away from carbon-based energy sources, like coal and gas. They are clear that the transition needs to happen as quickly as possible.
Natural gas is a carbon emitter and is thus contributing to climate change, there is no debate about that. The debate is whether or not natural gas is an effective ‘transition fuel’. The conclusion of a paper published in the scientific journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews sums up the debate rather well:
“Existing studies agree that natural gas helps avoid greenhouse gas emissions in the short term, while unintended long-term effects might also hinder the transition into renewables.” (Gursan, 2021)
In other words, it’s complicated and the answer is not entirely clear. Thankfully, the seven members of the District of Squamish Council are not solely responsible for determining the global environmental impact of greenhouse gas emissions from Woodfibre LNG. That is what the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) does for projects in BC. In addition to environmental impact, the EAO ensures that the legal rights of First Nations are respected.
The EAO has issued a certificate for the Woodfibre LNG project. While I acknowledge and respect that someone may disagree that the project should have been issued a certificate, there is a process for environmental assessment of projects within the BC government, and that process has been passed.
I believe the relevant question moving forward is not “Do you support or oppose WLNG?”, the relevant question is “Is there anything we can do so that WLNG has positive impact on our community?” If we refuse to engage and continue attempting to entirely block the project, we are at the risk of having the project go ahead with a greater negative impact on our community than if we work with WLNG to mitigate the negative impacts. I believe it is time to stop simplifying the question to “support” or “oppose” and start talking about the details of mitigating the negative and increasing the positive impacts on our community.
Transportation & Parking
When asking people which issues in Squamish frustrate them, parking is one of the most common responses. As our population grows and the downtown area densifies, parking will become an increasingly frustrating issue for residents and visitors. The philosophy of the current Council, as outlined in the Community Climate Action Plan to "shift beyond the car" is used as the reasoning behind not increasing the amount of parking downtown. While I completely support the majority of the climate action plan, I struggle to see how a Squamish resident can make do without a car. However, I do see how a Squamish resident can "shift toward an electric car". But to do so requires them to have consistent and convenient access to a charging station - typically at home or at their place of work. If you need to depend on public charging stations, you are less likely to make the transition to an electric vehicle. I believe that a parkade in the downtown area with both long-term and short-term options that include charging facilities would both reduce the parking tension and increase the transition to electric vehicles.
An ironic anecdote that summarizes an aspect of the parking frustration. I recently parked downtown to do a short video interview with the Squamish Chief, pick up my campaign signs from InBiz, order some ski kit from Vallhalla Pure, do some banking at TD, and then chat with a downtown business owner at Zephyr about what they would like to see from Council. I decided to park my car and walk to each of these businesses, because I was trying to reflect on what it would take to make our downtown a more walkable space. The conversation naturally flowed to parking, a topic we chatted about for at least half an hour. When I got back to my car, there was a parking ticket on my windscreen. There are signs clearly posting that parking is limited to 2 hours and was parked for 2 hours 30 minutes, so I am not disputing the fairness of the ticket. I did the crime, so I pay the fine. However, I wondered what my other options were. The District provides this helpful summary of Parking Downtown, so yes, there are options. I could have parked on 3rd, or in the lot by Junction Park, thus making my errands feasible to walk. But in the end, this experience is going to make me more likely to drive my car from business to business. What can we do to encourage folks to park their car and walk around downtown?
I would like to commend the current Council and District staff for securing the funding for access and environmental upgrades to Brennan Park. I see the pressure for pool time as my kids are avid swimmers and I understand that the pressure for ice time is even greater. Providing sufficient recreational facilities is a challenging, yet important, role for local government. Deciding between public works infrastructure upgrades and recreational facilities is a balance that every Council needs to manage. I believe that alternate sources of funding and/or sponsorship should continue to be sought for recreational facilities improvements.
I am a physics professor at Quest University, a husband, and a father of two boys. My career in research and academia has allowed us to live in several countries including; the United States, Switzerland, and South Africa. Until moving to Squamish in 2016, I had never lived in a place that I could not imagine leaving. I hope to live the remainder of my life enjoying the people, the trails, the lakes, and the mountains of Squamish. Squamish is an amazing place and I would like to help make it even more amazing.
My campaign is completely self-fund. I have not, and will not, accept campaign donations from any other source. As of 8 October, I have spent approximately $500 on this website and campaign signs. As a professor at Quest University, I will recuse myself from any discussions and votes relating to Quest University. As a consultant with Politikos Research, I will recuse myself from any discussions or decisions relating to contracting Politikos Research for any District business. I will not consult on any Politikos Research projects relating to the District of Squamish while I am a sitting Councillor. I don't see any potential conflicts of interest or perceptions of bias that may arise from my part-time role as a ski instructor at Whistler Blackcomb. I have an open building permit with the District of Squamish for an addition to my primary residence.