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‘Large’, ‘green’ townhomes scrutinized

Bed unit loophole, building standards examined in Blueberry proposal



Council raised several questions Monday about a rezoning application in Blueberry Hill that would allow eight new residential units in the area.

Developers want to change the zoning from a nine-unit apartment building to a complex with two triplexes and one duplex.

Council’s concerns included what defines a green building, what should the number of bed units for a large home be, and should the owners be allowed to rent those beds out nightly if they wanted.

“I think it is great that the proponent is coming forward and suggesting building something greener,” said Councillor Tim Wake.

“But I would like to see more certainty in the documentation that it would in fact be green,” he said.

Councillor Eckhard Zeidler added that Whistler has developed a track record for touting everything as a green development.

“It is at the point now where you see full page ads in the paper advertising for green buildings,” he said.

To make sure that the project actually stands up to its environmental claims, councillors have asked staff to ensure the development achieves 50 Whistler Green Points, the highest level of certification under Whistler’s new environmental building standards.

Councillors have also asked staff to look into tidying up the current bed unit policy. Namely, increasing the number of bed units allocated to a “large” multi-family home.

Councillor Gord McKeever said that a “bed unit loophole” is constantly being taken full advantage of.

“The spirit of bed units has been pushed beyond the intention, and we’ve seen it exploited a few times already,” said McKeever.

Currently, only four bed units are assigned for a town home, where as single family homes get six.

Council’s concern is that larger townhouses, like the ones proposed in the Blueberry Estates rezoning, should be assigned more than four bed units because of their size.

Each home in the proposed Blueberry Estates complex would be about 3,000 square feet.

Mayor Ken Melamed agreed with the bed unit review.

“We are moving in a trend that is not in the best interest of the resort,” he said.

Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden also questioned the developers’ choice to not make the homes available for nightly rentals. She said that future owners might question having to pay the Tourism Whistler resort fee without getting the benefit of being able to rent out the places nightly.

“Let’s avoid that problem now,” she said.

This would also give more flexibility to the strata and owners in the future to choose whether or not they wanted nightly rentals.

McKeever agreed that while the municipality does not need more places to offer nightly rental, the zoning is a long-term commitment.

The land in question is situated in Blueberry, bordered to the west and south by parkland and to the north by Ravencrest. An open house for the rezoning application was held in August. Only four people attended, and comments were generally positive.

The project received first and second reading Monday and will now go to a public hearing.