With little discussion and few Alpine Meadows residents in the audience, Whistler council gave third reading to a modified 19 Mile Creek employee housing project Monday. As requested by council two weeks earlier, the developers, 19 Mile Creek Housing Ltd., agreed to reduce the density of the project slightly, dropping the number of apartment units from 24 to 18. They have also decided to reduce the height of the three apartment buildings by using dormers to incorporate the third floor of the buildings into the sloped roof. However, approval of the controversial project was still not unanimous, as Councillor Stephanie Sloan voted against third reading of zoning and OCP amendment bylaws required for development. "I don’t think reducing by six units addresses the neighbours’ concerns. I think it’s still too dense," Sloan said. The project, which includes 60 employee townhomes and a single family lot on a former gravel pit site behind the Alpine Meadows Market, is still subject to a number of conditions before fourth reading. Those conditions include consideration of a resident property manager for the apartment units, the municipality hiring a traffic consultant to review the report of the developer’s traffic consultant, and the municipality hiring an engineering consultant to review the work of the developer’s floodproofing consultant. The municipality had previously set design and finishing guidelines for the project. Confirmation that the project can be insured was received Monday. The municipality is requesting the Ministry of Highways upgrade the signal light at Highway 99 and Alpine Way to fully activated, from its current pedestrian-activated status. While the project has met with council’s approval, some Alpine residents have retained a law firm to try and block the project. The law firm of DuMoulin and Boskovich, which was successful in getting a court to over-turn a zoning decision on a Whistler Creek pension, wrote a letter to council members last month which said in part: "The public’s participation in the proposed rezoning and corresponding OCP amendment are an integral component of the approval process. Due to the shortness of notice in this case prior to the public hearing of March 9, 1998, it has been impossible for members of the public to effectively voice their concerns on the complex issues delineated." There was no word on further legal action at press time. Floodproofing, traffic and density were the primary concerns many Alpine Meadows residents expressed during a stormy public hearing March 9 and during several previous public information meetings. The 19 Mile Creek project was originally proposed in the fall of 1996, in response to the previous council’s call for affordable employee housing projects. That initial proposal was for much greater density than a revised proposal for 60 townhouses and 24 apartment units which came back to council last fall. Monday’s elimination of six apartments was still not enough for some Alpine residents. Ed Zinkovich told council during the question and answer period, "If you call that a reduction in density then things are really sad here in Whistler." Zinkovich also called on council to better inform residents of the municipal process. "Council seems to think we all know the Municipal Act," Zinkovich said. "Well, we all know more now." The developers are expected to begin work on the project in the next month, although that depends on how quickly the provincial government can approve the bylaws and return them to the municipality for fourth reading, and on whether there is any court action. If the project is started by the end of April, some units are expected to be ready for occupancy by next winter.