Industry has always been an economic driver in Squamish. Forestry was traditionally the main industry in the area, and the town's largest employer was the Western Forest Products pulp mill. However, Western Pulp's Squamish operation permanently ceased operation in 2006.
The Squamish Day Loggers Sports Festival celebrates the connection between Squamish and local industry. Bryan Couture is the president of the Squamish Loggers Sports Association. He’s been involved with the world-class event since 1974 and has a lot to say about the need for more industry in Squamish.
"We need more industry, larger scale employers and more opportunities for residents to work locally in solid, well-paying jobs. I’d like to see more industry come to Squamish.”
Bryan is concerned about continued population growth in the area, because the community’s resources are stretched to the limits.
Squamish is changing and growing, and we need to keep up with the demand for services and demand on our infrastructure.
In his more than 40 years of work, and volunteering with Squamish Days, he’s also seen how industry and tourism can work together.
“I ran a business taking exhibition logging shows across Canada and the world, introducing people to the history of the west coast of Canada through logging. We did our shows at festivals, fairs, conventions, trade shows, and brought the logging industry to the tourists wherever we travelled.”
One memorable year a couple of decades ago, BC Gas (now FortisBC) was working on a gas line in Squamish near the Loggers Sports grounds, and their equipment got stuck. He brought a tractor from the grounds to help free the equipment, and the grateful crew asked what they could do to help Bryan in return. At the time, the Loggers Sports grounds had problems with flooding, so the crew brought their equipment, dug trenches and helped install a water drainage system.
When local residents saw the crew at work they assumed a gas line was being installed.
“I spread a rumour that we were heating the bleachers with natural gas,” Bryan said. “But in reality they were helping us install better water drainage so our infield wouldn't flood every year… It’s great when community and industry can work together and find solutions to get projects done.”