During the final meeting of their term, council gave first and second reading to an all-encompassing bylaw Monday that will open up the list of commercial uses allowed during the 2010 Olympics.
Although it still has to go to a public hearing, the sweeping “temporary commercial use permit” (TCUPs) bylaw will allow VANOC to set up a merchandise tent on a golf course or let residents rent their homes to Olympic workers for a month.
Such bylaws are common in host Olympic cities, and most councillors gave the TCUPs bylaw a thumbs up Monday night, including Mayor Ken Melamed.
The mayor said the bylaw does not go against his traditional stance that housing for the residents and workers in Whistler should not be threatened by the Games.
“This is not talking about nightly rentals,” said Melamed.
“We already understand that VANOC and the RCMP have made offers to a number of people in the community for the rental to employees during the Games, which is not inconsistent with our bylaws. It is when people are renting on a nightly basis that goes counter to our employees.” (See related story pages 20, 21.)
In fact the only voice of opposition from the council table Monday night came from Councillor Eckhard Zeidler, who said he was uncomfortable about how the bylaw could impact local merchants.
“I think we are in for great amounts of poo-poo raining down on us at the public hearing,” said Zeidler.
Later he said the bylaw has the potential to take the decision away from council as to the nature and scale of the retail that VANOC can put up temporarily to compete directly with Whistler retailers.
“The partner for me that is most important is our merchants, and not VANOC,” said Zeidler.
“Further to that, I do not take any comfort in being told that this is VANOC’s intention or this is not VANOC’s intention, to build 40,000 square feet or 5,000 square feet or anything else. I want to see that stuff come before council.”
It’s proposed that hierarchy of TCUP applications be established and that some will be decided by municipal general managers, while others will have to come to council for approval.
Zeidler said he is not so concerned with the accommodation-side of things.
Some uses that would be permitted under the proposed blanket bylaw are:
• Places to sell official Olympic merchandise
• Accommodation for people working at Games events
• Food and beverage areas
• Ticketing posts
• Temporary signs
• Other Games-time structures such as information kiosks, portable toilets and media work tents.
TCUPs will not be considered on land that is considered environmentally sensitive.
Council also plans to enact a second bylaw, a procedures bylaw, to dictate how temporary use applications are chartered.