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Brandywine power project OK’d

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Green power may be coming to Brandywine Creek in the next few months.

Rezoning of the Brandywine Creek micro-hydro project received third reading from Whistler council Monday, after Pacific Northwest Energy Corporation vice president David Kiess told council the company had an "extremely positive" meeting with First Nations representatives.

Kiess said a meeting with Squamish Nation Chief Gibby Jacobs and Chief Allen Stager of the Mount Currie Band resulted in a verbal agreement in principle regarding participation in the project by both nations.

Pacific Northwest Energy said it had been trying for a year to meet with the First Nations regarding the proposed run-of-river hydro project.

However, council reserved the right to make adoption of the zoning bylaw conditional on a signed agreement between the power company and the First Nations.

In the last two years Whistler has tried to reach out to the Lil’wat and Squamish Nations and build relationships with the First Nations. The point was raised by Mayor Hugh O’Reilly and Councillor Dave Kirk at a May 6 council meeting where the Brandywine project was discussed, with Kirk saying council was in a difficult position.

A May 21 public hearing on rezoning for the project was adjourned, and reconvened this week, in order to allow one last attempt to get the two sides talking.

At the May 21 meeting Ulf Ottho, a lawyer representing Pacific Northwest Energy, told Whistler councillors if a third level of government gets involved in negotiations with First Nations it could open up "all kinds of issues."

Ottho and Kiess were the only speakers at the public hearing.

The Brandywine Creek project will generate roughly seven megawatts of electricity. PNEC has been working on the project for three and a half years and has negotiated a 20-year contract to sell power to B.C. Hydro, starting next summer.

PNEC has worked with the municipality over the past three and a half years, moving the power plant inside municipal boundaries and enlarging plans for the facility. If it is approved it will generate between $150,000 and $200,000 in property tax for the municipality annually.

Alpha Lake Park to expand

Alpha Lake park will get an additional 1.24 acres and Greg Kerfoot will be allowed to build an additional 1,634 square feet of gross floor area on his 5-acre parcel in Creekside.

Kerfoot’s rezoning application received third reading Monday after a public hearing which did not draw any opposition.

Kerfoot is building a 21,500 square foot ice rink, a 5,000 square foot house and auxilliary buildings on the site. He offered to donate 1.24 acres of his property to the municipality, to be added to Alpha Lake Park, in exchange for rezoning. The rezoning allows him to build a 1,640 square foot guest house and a 1,200 square foot caretaker suite. A storage building and a workshop were deleted from the project.

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