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19 mile creek

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A revised plan for the 19 Mile Creek employee housing project received first and second reading from council Monday, but four issues must be resolved before the project goes to a public hearing. The issues include: o An updated traffic study that examines the project’s impact on Alpine Way and Highway 99 o Some assurance from the Ministry of Environment that the proposed floor elevations meet flood proofing standards o Ownership details of the apartment rental units o Agreement on the sale price of the townhouse units and quality of finishing The project proposed by Columbus Properties includes 60 one-, two- and three-bedroom townhouses in eight buildings, and 24 three-bedroom rental units in two buildings. A single-family lot, which would be sold at market value, is also part of the proposal. Council members and the new Whistler Resident Housing Corporation support the site, a former gravel pit next to 19 Mile Creek, behind the Alpine Market in Alpine Meadows. The site is lower than surrounding lands, which makes the project less obtrusive. However, it’s also lower than 19 Mile Creek itself. Staff want assurances from the Ministry of Environment that the berm alongside the creek provides sufficient flood proofing and the ministry won’t require the ground floors of the buildings to be higher than the 19 Mile Creek water table. The proposed selling price for the townhouses is $155 per square foot, or approximately $192,000 for a three-bedroom townhouse. The municipality’s policy on employee housing is that projects should sell for $150 per square foot. The proposed price sparked some debate among council members, with Councillor Ken Melamed asking, "Why should they be allowed $155 per square foot when this is one of the easiest sites to build on?" Mayor Hugh O’Reilly agreed the price needs to be looked at, but suggested some of Melamed’s other requests, such as PowerSmart appliances and better finishing materials, may push the price over $150 per square foot. "The kicker is we are in control of the resale price. These will be affordable to the second and third owners," O’Reilly said of the re-sale price restrictions on employee housing projects. An amenity building is included in the proposal, but staff have recommended it be removed, as it may become a financial liability to the strata council. Columbus has suggested the money saved by removing the amenity building from the plans could be used to provide roofs of cedar shingles, rather than duroid. Councillor Dave Kirk asked staff if they could come up with a mechanism to assure the quality of construction and finish is as promised by the developer. Kirk suggested the cedar roof would be a benefit to neighbours of the project. Matthew Coté of Columbus has said the company needs approval of the project by the end of the year in order for occupancy to occur by next winter. Municipal staff suggested the project be given first two readings — subject to resolution of the four issues prior to a public hearing — in an attempt to meet that timeline. Council voted 5-1 to give the project first and second reading, with Melamed opposed. Melamed said, "I think it’s dangerous to go to first and second reading with so many unanswered questions." Of the other two conditions that must be worked out, Columbus submitted an updated transportation study to municipal staff earlier this week and the developers have proposed that the apartment units be sold to the Chamber of Commerce to rent to members’ employees. Columbus was meeting with the chamber this week.

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