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Frequently Asked Questions

Posted by KatieMcLachlan on January 14, 2021
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Squamish and the Howe Sound
Photo Credit: Alex Guillaume

As a Realtor I am often asked a lot of similar questions, especially when working with clients who live outside of the Sea to Sky Corridor. Here is a guide of the questions I am most frequently asked…

What is an illegal suite, and what are the risks associated? This is a common question that comes up all the time. The first thing I want to clear up is that its not necessarily ILLEGAL, it is UNATHORISED by the district or municipality. In order to be classified as an authorized secondary suite, it will need to meet certain requirements including fire safety, points of egress and separately metered services. It is quite common for secondary suites to be unauthorized in Squamish, and that comes with some risk. As I sit here typing this up, it is highly unlikely that an unauthorized suite will be ordered to undergo significant alterations in order to meet the standards of an authorized suite or be forced to evict tenants and cease operation. That being said, these are the inherent risks associated with purchasing a home with an unauthorized secondary suite.

What do I need to know about Squamish and the floodplains? This is a tough one – water is truly just part of our reality when you live in Squamish. First and foremost, The Daisy Lake Dam is at a higher elevation than Squamish, and we are surrounded by numerous rivers and lakes, as well as our proximity to the ocean – that is a lot of water! The Squamish District has been working on flood mitigation plans for many years with our last flood recorded in 2003. Most of the work is aimed at improving our dike systems protecting the Mamquam, Stawamus, Cheekeye and Squamish Rivers. Another big factor in today’s world is the effects of climate change i.e. rising oceans. I always recommend consulting with your insurance provider regarding inland flooding, back-up flooding as well as saltwater flooding. Unfortunately, most, if not all of Squamish is not insured for saltwater flooding and has some kind of risk relating to flooding.

What is your favourite biking trail(s)? Squamish is much-loved for its immediate access to some of the Sea to Sky’s most desirable biking trails. With trails ranging from beginner to expert, there is something for everyone. I highly recommend getting your hands on the trail map available at the Squamish Adventure Centre, as it shows you all the local trails and the skill level. Here are some options:

  • Green/Beginners: Wonderland, Cliff’s Corners & Dump Trails
  • Blue/Flowy: Half Nelson, Pseudo Tsuga & Miki’s Magic
  • Blue/Tech: Leave of Absence, Fred-Tinder-Your-Mom & Rollercoaster
  • Black: Entrails, Rupert & Hybrid

How many times a day does the train come? Unfortunately, there is no cut and dry answer, as there is no formalized schedule for the train. The tracks run through the west side of town, mainly through the downtown area, Dentville, Northyards, Garibaldi Estates and Brackendale neighbourhoods. I am told that there used to be approximately 4 trains per day, however, the number of trains has greatly decreased due to low demand from the wood mills throughout the pandemic. Fun fact: you can learn about Squamish’s rich history at the West Coast Railway Heritage Park.

What is the best way to travel along the Sea to Sky Highway? Most people elect to drive their car up and down the highway, however, if you are looking for alternate travel options I would highly recommend the Squamish Connector – traveling between the North Shore and Whistler, connecting at all the major stops including Horseshoe Bay and Squamish.

What are the service providers in Squamish? For your internet needs, Shaw services this area. As for the rest of your communication needs, you can choose from a number of providers, including Shaw, Rogers, Telus, Koodoo and more. Hydro is through BC Hydro and Natural gas is through Fortis BC.

Where is the Gun Range located? The Squamish Valley Rod and Gun Club is one of Squamish’s oldest residents, established in 1942. They offer a number of sports like archery, fishing and of course, shooting spots. The gun range is located next to the Mamquam River on Centennial Way. The area’s most affected by the noise of the range are: Garbialdi Estates, Brennan Centre & Tantalus, however, it can also be heard in the highlands.

Is Squamish really that windy? Squamish means big wind, which is why Squamish is such a desirable area for wind sport enthusiasts, however, what does that mean for your outdoor time? Squamish is blessed with relatively mind temperatures, which means we get to enjoy the outdoors for most of the year, however, it can be very windy and leave your outdoor patio sessions at the mercy of mother nature.

What are your favourite hiking trails? There is an endless amount of hiking trails in and around the Squamish area. Here are a few od my favourite hiking trails, from easy walks to tough grinds:

  • Easy: Estuary Trail or Bluffs Park (45 minutes – 1 hour)
  • Intermediate: Brohm Lake Loop or Four Lake Loop at Alice Lake
  • Hard: The Sea to Summit Trail or The Chief

What are your favourite neighbourhoods in Squamish? That is a tough one, because every neighbourhood has its uniqueness to it. Here are just three of my favourites:

  • Hospital Hill – I think this is a pretty awesome neighbourhood, as it has instant access to climbing trails and also offers stunning mountain vistas and a view over Squamish’s downtown. It is located above Valleycliffe, which is known for its proximity to the Stawamus Chief (you can literally see rock climbers from your backyard). Very unqiue location which is much-loved by locals.
  • Garibaldi Highlands – this is a great neighbourhood for families, in particular, or simply those who want to be front and centre to some of Squamish’s best biking trails. The Highlands, as it is referred to by locals offers incredible panoramic views, and is mostly made up by single family homes. The newer development of University Heights, is located just above the highlands near QUEST University.
  • Brackendale – Brackendale is a lovely area on the north end of Squamish. It offers a quieter lifestyle, away from the downtown area. Brackendale has a wonderful community feel, with a handful of local cafes and eateries tucked away. It is located next to the Squamish river, which offers beautiful walking trails, eagle sightseeing and fishing!

What are the daycare facilities like in Squamish? This is a hands down one of the biggest concerns for young families in Squamish, but lets be honest, the daycare crisis is not limited to Squamish or the Sea to Sky Community – it is felt throughout most communities throughout Canada. I am not an expert in this area (as I do not have kids) however, we have a great resource called the Sea to Sky Community Services, which offers assistance and guidance with finding childcare programs, among many other useful services. Take a look here: https://www.sscs.ca/child-care/.

Are there any beaches in Squamish? Squamish is surrounded by rivers, lakes and the ocean. We are incredibly blessed to be able to hike beside gorgeous waterfalls, have a picnic alongside a pristine lake, go windsurfing or kiteboarding in the ocean or just simply relax at Nexxen or Judd Beach. But let’s get one thing clear, our beaches truly represent rugged British Columbia, where sand is traded in for driftwood and pebbles. Fisherman’s Park in Brackendale offers some of the more ‘sandy beach’ alternatives to enjoy.

Where is the best place to see Bald Eagles? Squamish, and more specifically, Brackendale is well-known for bald eagle watching. Fisherman’s Park and along the Squamish River is the most ideal place to catch a glimpse of these amgestic birds, and prime viewing season is between November – February when the salmon run occurs. The Squamish Rafting Company offers a fantastic Wilderness & Eagle Watching Float Tour, which all but guarantees some great eagle spotting.

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