Why is this Council silent on the Spit?
Squamish is on the verge of losing one of its main ocean access and North America’s premier water sports venue, without even a word from local politicians.
Elected officials may think they have dodged a political bullet by remaining silent on the future of the Squamish Spit, but the puzzle is about to begin.
From the outset, a holistic approach to this project was never sought. There was no clear understanding of what people are using the area and how they are using it. There has been no review of how many people the place attracts. Instead, only one option was put forward under a story created by a paid PR consultant who silences people.
Some people brave enough to risk being labeled as haters of salmon or insensitive to First Nations have called for a better solution. They came to the table with money and ideas, but it all landed on deaf ears. And now, despite the warnings, Squamish is heading for calamity.
Not only will the removal of 300 meters from Spit mark the end of Squamish as a tourist kitesurfing destination, it will also force those trying to access the wind in extreme ways.
To reach a proposed island – the tip of the arrow that will remain – people resort to jet skis, boats, SUPS, canoes and try to wade at low tide to access the wind. This will all be mixed with strong currents and people securing ships in small areas with less current, while kitesurfers, windsurfers and wingers will roam around.
It is highly unlikely that the Squamish Watersports Society will continue to exist to oversee this space, because who is going to pay for a place so hard to get to or pay twice once out to take a look? This means there is no surveillance, estuary protection or security measures in place to ensure that wind sports enthusiasts and Squamish Terminal operations do not mix.
When Newport finally reopens, politicians defended a sailing sports location in the park as a solution. This shows their total lack of understanding towards the sport. Kiting requires 24 meter long lines attached to very powerful kites. These will be mixed with dog walkers, pedestrians and toddlers. Then there’s the wind itself, which is gusty here and not suitable for beginners, not to mention the type of leeward log, where people will end up if they get into trouble.
In addition to all this, there is the question of vehicles. The majority of windsports users currently come from out of town. Every weekend, 50 or more vehicles are parked at the spit. Now, these vehicles will be redirected to the boat launch next to the Squamish Yacht Club, if there is a water taxi, an area that is already full on weekends.
All of these situations create dangerous scenarios.
In the end, all levels of government were warned against these two perspectives and chose to ignore them. And at the end of the day, if someone is hurt, it will end up on their hands.
Rebecca Aldous is a former board member of the Squamish Windsport Society and a local water sports access advocate in Squamish.