In November, the ParkHouse project, a 65-unit residential condo complex in the city’s downtown, sold out in less than 90 minutes.

“We knew that there was a great desire for this type of housing here in Squamish, so we knew there was interest, but we never expected to sell out that quickly,” said developer Michael Henson.

Henson said he’s not the only developer looking north of Metro Vancouver either, adding that the Sea-to-Sky Highway upgrades and the opening of Quest University have turned Squamish into a more attractive prospect for buyers.

The commute into Vancouver, though more winding and zigzagging than most, is also comparable to those faced by residents in the Tri-Cities.

“You can expect anything from 45 minutes as the commute time to downtown Vancouver,” Henson said.

Mayor Patricia Heintzman, who fell in love with Squamish and moved in more than two decades ago, said living there feels different than settling down just outside Vancouver’s city limits.

“We’re not the suburbs,” Heintzman said.

“You’re got Whistler just up the road, you’re on the ocean but you’re in the mountains – you’ve got this natural spectacle all around you.”

Henson said the perception of Squamish as a stopover spot on the way to Whistler is fading, and people are clueing in to its charm – a perception real estate figures seem to back up.

According to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, the benchmark price for Squamish homes reached $630,000 in November. That’s up from $392,000 five years earlier.

Sarah MacDonald CTV Vancouver