The Squamish Commuter

My day begins, like hundreds before it, at about 5am. Over the next 90 minutes, our home comes to life; the shower is going, kids are dressed, fed, packed up and thoroughly fed up before starting their adventures at daycare. Our espresso machine churns out the fuel that powers two bleary eyed commuters south for work.

The decision to become Squamish commuters happened in 2008; we were living in North Vancouver and were adjusting to life as new parents. As our son Liam began to crawl, we realized that our small condo was getting smaller as he became more mobile, and with plans for a sibling on our minds, we began the search for larger digs.

In looking at options for buying a larger home, it quickly became apparent that we would have to join the hordes of people across the lower mainland who could not afford to live in or anywhere near the community they work and create value in. We got out the map, made a list of cities within an hour and started driving around. Out of this search, the community that kept coming to the top of the list was Squamish, so we made the move and accepted the 2 hours a day we would have to spend in our cars.

I am asked frequently what we had to sacrifice in our quest for a family home, and the answer that always comes to mind is time. Time in our community, time with our kids, time to do the shopping... It always comes down to time. It was no problem letting go of the noise, the traffic, the crime, the mall, but I always find myself wishing for the time back.

In looking back at the last 4 years, I ask myself: Was it worth it? The answer is a resounding Yes! Squamish, even as a bedroom community, has much to offer a young family. But is the life of a commuter, and by extension Squamish as a bedroom community, sustainable over the long term? I would have to say no. The bright, motivated workforce we send packing north and south every morning are hard at work creating value in other communities instead of here in Squamish. If we want to emerge as the thriving, innovative city we know we can be, we have to quickly figure out how we harness the potential of the commuter, and start bringing that value home.