Watch the elevator pitch and read campaign Q&A from Armand Hurford, candidate for mayor in the District of Squamish.
As part of our coverage of the 2022 municipal election, Chief Squamish has sent questionnaires to all candidates running for council or mayor. Identical questions were provided to each candidate, who had the opportunity to send in written responses.
The following are the unedited responses for this candidate. Those who have not responded by the press deadline do not have responses to post.
Additionally, contestants were also asked to film a short elevator pitch. This candidate’s elevator pitch is embedded in this story.
Please provide your name and political party
Armand Hurford (He/Him) Independent
How do you think the council can help solve the housing affordability crisis in Squamish?
As mayor, I will ensure that all regulatory tools are used to positively impact the affordability crisis. As President of the new Squamish Housing Society, I have a very good understanding of the needs and possible solutions, such as:
1) The Community Amenity Contribution (CAC) policy is being reviewed and affordable housing should have more weight in this policy in the future.
2) Support for the Housing Corporation and their work.
3) Property tax exemptions to support existing and new affordable housing, where applicable.
4) Ongoing advocacy with the province (housing is a provincial responsibility after all!) to secure land and/or funds for future projects.
5) Encourage “missing middle” forms of housing to provide more choice in housing types and prices.
6) Continued investment in local transit will make getting around the community easier and less expensive. Additional advocacy with the province for a regional transit system.
All tools available!
Some locals have asked for a pause in development on private land, but the council does not have the power to do so. How are you going to reconcile this disconnection?
Changes are coming to us quickly in recent years, I feel it too. As stated in the question, municipalities have very few tools to control the development schedule. The most powerful tool we have to control the schedule and ensure that development happens in a way that results in a net benefit to the community is the growth management limit. There has been pressure from landowners outside the border to develop their land. To abandon what is a very effective tool for accelerating development, the mayor, council and the community as a whole will need to assess the potential impact of such a move and the positive and negative consequences of doing so. The job of the mayor and councils is to continually refine policy to ensure that projects that come forward are of net benefit to the community with things like affordable housing and child care spaces without further exacerbating existing problems. Development is not a bad thing in itself, but managing it requires strong independent leadership.
Do you own property in Squamish? When was the last time you rented?
I do not own property in Squamish and am currently renting. I’ve lived in four different places since being elected to council in 2018. My rent is now about 3x what it was in 2018 for about a third of the space. Every time I sit down, I bring my lived experience as a tenant and as an employer who continually has staffing issues directly related to this issue to the board table. I live with this problem on a daily basis.
How do you usually get to work? When was the last time you took a bus?
I live downtown and have two jobs. When I go to the council, I usually walk, but I cycle or skateboard when the mood takes me. When I commute to work at my bike shop in Brackendale, I try to ride my bike, take the bus and, as a last resort, drive. I take the bus 3 or 4 times a month on average and look forward to the planned expansions as the service becomes more and more convenient to use. I end up driving quite often to get to various adventure sites with my antisocial dog.
Did you have to find daycare in Squamish?
I had to find daycare in Squamish, but not for a long time. My daughter is approaching her twenty-first birthday. Even when she needed childcare, it was a challenge to find and pay for. I paid special attention to this because I sympathize with families who currently need child care as well as those who do, but it is VERY expensive. This issue has created a hole in our workforce with many families unable to return to work after paternity leave. As mayor, I will continue to push this issue for the many young families in Squamish.
Do you own or have you ever owned a business in Squamish? Do you pay commercial rent?
Since 2007 (15.5 years!), I have owned and operated Republic Bicycles in Brackendale. Space rental is one of them, starting with the 450 square foot space and now the 4000 square foot space. So, yes I pay a commercial lease with insurance and triple net and so on. Squamish is a challenging and rewarding place to do business, I know and understand that intimately.
Do you think Squamish has a parking problem? If so, what will you do about it?
There are parking issues in various areas of our community. Downtown, I think metering needs to be explored as a way to ensure there is movement and therefore more opportunity for space to be available for use. This is a complex solution that requires solid planning to avoid any negative ripple effects. Street parking is paid for by taxpayers and we currently distribute it by effectively subsidizing those who use it. It is a project that is ongoing and the new mayor and the new council will be in charge of examining it. The idea of a car park has been around over the years, I have read the many reports on this topic and believe it is not a viable option at the moment due to the astronomical cost and facility requirements much higher such as the many aspects of Brennan Park, a new library and municipal offices.
In what ways would you support the board in the face of the climate crisis?
Squamish, like much of North America, is feeling the effects of climate change. While Squamish and its citizens must do everything in their power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Squamish must also adapt to the changes taking place.
Squamish must screen its decisions and policies to ensure that they serve both to reduce emissions and to ensure that Squamish’s capital investments and infrastructure are designed to withstand and protect against wildfires, droughts , heat waves and extreme weather conditions.
Efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt our infrastructures to deal with the impacts of climate change constitute good environmental and economic policy.
This means weaving climate policy further into the very fabric of every aspect of municipal functions. The Climate Emergency Motion, Community Climate Action Plan, Active Transportation, and Transit Expansion are all examples of ways I have previously supported these efforts as an advisor.
The municipality controls by-law making, budget planning and approval, committees, appointments to boards and commissions, and general oversight of municipal administration. Within those powers, what didn’t the last tip do that you want to make a priority?
I’m proud of the extent to which this council has been able to push the replacement of facilities, and I’m excited to tackle the complexity of what’s next on the list. It is exciting to see the victory of receiving a large grant ($11.7 million) from the federal government for Brennan Park and I look forward to continuing this trend. These opportunities are only granted to organizations that are ready to put in the ground breaking from a planning perspective. We are ready and will continue to seek funding to execute. As a former library board member, I am also excited about what a new library in Squamish could be. Town halls also need a solution. All of these projects are financially linked and will take every move into consideration, but when completed will dramatically change service delivery in our community. Maybe we will finally get our community forest granted by the province and actions on regional transport? I hope to be there to keep moving forward on these.