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Brainstorming a vision for new neighbourhood

Community members look beyond 2010 in planning 200-acre athletes village site

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"There’s generally consensus, I believe, about people not wanting to create a satellite community but wanting to make this an enhancement to Whistler overall."

At the same time the group did not foresee this neighbourhood as a place with major community facilities or amenities, rather a site with some small commercial opportunities such as a coffee shop and a convenience store.

"Across the board the groups agreed there’s a hierarchy of centres in the community, the village being the highest," said Vance. "And so any significant facilities should be focused towards the village."

To help the brainstorming session, the group of 35, most of whom were a part of the Whistler 2020 task forces, was broken down into smaller discussion groups. Because of the work done in Whistler 2020, the community’s new planning document, many in the group were familiar with the municipality’s vision of the future and how to get there in a successful and sustainable way.

Vance said it was interesting to see some major similarities with the outcomes of those breakout discussions.

"It just shows consistency in our community’s vision of what we’d look like if we were successful in 15 years," he said.

The neighbourhood will be made up of a mixture of employee housing, meaning it will be price-restricted for employees in Whistler. At the same time, much of the discussion centred on preventing residential sprawl and keeping the neighbourhood compact, following smart growth planning principles.

Brown said he struggles to reconcile those smart growth principles with providing residents a range of housing opportunities.

"My particular passion in this community has always been around resident housing and making sure that there’s not only a sufficient supply of it but also the right product out there for people," he said. "And in that sense I always get a bit conflicted with the smart growth principles which really push density… I know that people want sort of graduated living, from being happy in a small shared one or two bedroom to eventually having a family and wanting more space and some green space."

Without a doubt, said Brown, there will have to be compromises made on this site, whether it’s the amount of amenities there or the high density.

"Undoubtedly it won’t fit perfectly but I think it’ll still be, at the end of the day, a community we can be proud of," he said. "I really walked away from those two days feeling that."

The master planners for the site can now incorporate the direction given to them by these community members.

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