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It took a half-hour discussion by council, a 10-minute session between the developers and planning staff, and another 15-minute discussion amongst council and staff, but the Barnfield Farm proposal was finally given third reading Monday, and the proposal unchanged. Afterwards one of the proponents said he didn’t think council understood how close they came to scrapping the whole project. The Barnfield Farm proposal by Steve Bayly and Jon Paine is to create eight large estate lots and 23 employee housing lots on the five parcels in the Adventures West area owned by McDonald’s of Canada. The proposal also includes preservation of a small old growth forest, creation of a wildlife corridor and preservation of other lands including a wetland area on Lot A, alongside the River of Golden Dreams. The proposal was the subject of a public information meeting on May 6 and a more formal public hearing on May 21. Concerns were expressed at both meetings by Whistler Cay residents about what impact the employee housing would have on the neighbourhood, but very little was said about the environmental impact of the project. Planning staff’s report to council Monday asked for changes on Lot A. "There’s two issues: the set back and the amount of disturbance within the buffer zone," Mike Vance, director of Planning, told council. The two developers want to build their own homes on Lot A. They do not intend to touch the wetland area or build any structures in the buffer zone between the wetland and the building area, but they want the opportunity to put grass, boardwalks and remove some trees in the buffer zone. They based their whole plans for the five parcels on recommendations by GeoAlpine/Nelson Environmental Consultants. GeoAlpine/Nelson were hired by the municipality last year to review the Freestyle proposal for the McDonald’s lands and determined then what areas should be left completely untouched and what areas were needed as a buffer zone. After the Freestyle proposal was rejected Bayly and Paine hired GeoAlpine/Nelson and formulated their development plans based on the environmental consultants’ previous and additional studies of the area. The municipality then hired a second environmental consultant, Talisman, to review GeoAlpine/Nelson’s environmental impact assessment and the overall plan for the land. In his original report to council, Talisman’s Paul Christie wrote: "In general, it is my opinion that the proposed development has been carefully thought out and designed from the ecological perspective. The proposal calls for a reasonable level of development on these private lands that has been balanced with the need to preserve and protect as much of the remaining natural areas within the RMOW as possible, particularly recognizing the importance of the wetland and old growth forest areas." However, Christie, who spoke to council Monday, had different ideas about the buffer zone between the protected wetland area and the developable area of Lot A. Christie felt there should be a larger buffer area than GeoAlpine/Nelson proposed and there should be no disturbance within the buffer. GeoAlpine/Nelson said there should be no buildings within the buffer, but there could be grass, boardwalks and some trees cleared. "If the developer decides to pull his proposal we could lose any protection of the wetland on that lot, is that right?" Councillor Max Kirkpatrick asked. The answer was yes. "They’re already giving up 40 per cent of that lot, aren’t they?" Kirkpatrick asked. The answer again was yes. "Then would your proposal be worth cancelling this whole project?" Kirkpatrick asked Christie. Christie said several times Monday he was "putting forward the environmental perspective," but that his "original recommendations really haven’t changed." "I’m saying at some point we need to draw a line," Christie said. "But I can’t say ‘yes, it has to be there and 25-feet of lawn will destroy it’. "It’s not to say that all the (environmental) values will be lost." Councillor Hugh O’Reilly summed up the situation by noting: "We’ve said in our OCP that environment and employee housing are our two biggest concerns and their going heat-to-head hear." In the end council was satisfied with the amount of environmental protection included in the original proposal and gave the project third reading. Bayly hopes to begin servicing the lots in the next month.