Ch’íiw̓es (Nexen), the location of the former Chlor-Alkali Plant and its lingering mercury contamination, is the planned location for the largest development to date. The marketing of Oceanfront is specifically aimed at “professional, creative and knowledge class workers ” with the aim to attract 6500 people (with zero affordable housing). This marketed environment is branded as “an elegant and exciting new residential and retail development that marks the first step in the upcoming Squamish waterfront renaissance.” This planned “beige-colored, monocultures,” is absent of difference or history and does not reflect local needs nor contain the wild, unmanicured elements that made them desirable in the first place. More, who will be excluded from the imaginary of the suburban waterfront and from its public spaces? What role does power, race, gender, identity and representation play in the creation of mentioned developments?
Renaissance, community, adventure. Seldom are the words affordable, diverse or characteristic used. Leading up to gentrification, the words more commonly heard are deleritc, eyesore, property value. In the process, an area is homogenized, the familiar ripped down. While “out with the old, in with the new,” is the motto among politicians, developers are “more concerned with boosting real estate values and tourism and less about community and environmental concerns.” The implications: residents can feel disconnected from their surroundings, are uprooted, displaced and like the old man in the film “Up,” they experience intense pressure to sell their family homes. They tend to feel a growing dislike for their new boxed in surroundings. The sun no longer shines on their garden like it once did.
Views considered sacred, open for all to enjoy, are now commodified for a wealth driven, privatized environment. Uprooted, tossed around, to be replaced by the next arrival who the government and developers can better benefit and lurch off; those more willing to play this game that they have created.