Britannia Beach residents are taking an internal fight over a commercial development to the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, asking the board to allow a drive-thru restaurant and gas bar in town.
The issue dates back to the SLRD's April 26 board meeting when staff recommended allowing a drive-thru restaurant and gas bar as part of Bylaw 1089 in an area zoned as "Britannia Townsite."
The board was also asked at that meeting to rescind second and third readings of the bylaw because they previously concerned a totally different development.
Whistler Director and Mayor Ken Melamed took a hard line against the changes at that meeting, saying the recommendation went against a lengthy consultation and planning process that led to a Master Plan for the Britannia Beach area. He said at the time that drive-thrus are not consistent with pedestrian-oriented townsites.
Squamish Directors Patricia Heintzman and Doug Race ultimately agreed with him and the board voted against rescinding second and third readings.
Now, however, several Britannia residents and the developer are saying that the uses are necessary for a major oceanfront development to go through and they fear that if the SLRD doesn't approve them, the developer won't be able to attract good clients.
William Baker, project coordinator for the Britannia Oceanfront Development Corporation, spoke to the board and admonished them to reconsider.
"Our goal today, with major support from the Britannia community and (Electoral Area D Director) John Turner, asking SLRD to rescind second and third readings of the bylaw, restore drive-thru ability, then go through SLRD staff over our proposal," he said. "We'd like to work with the community and bring a proposal back to the SLRD for their approval."
Baker said that approving the changes is essential to the development, which aims to establish a "commercial and civic heart" for Britannia Beach. The development corporation wants to build a community that will incorporate retailers, food operators, investors and owner-occupiers in structures designed according to Victorian and Arts and Crafts styles.
The community, Baker said, may have a tough time attracting businesses if there isn't a drive-thru restaurant and gas bar. He said many are insisting on a drive-thru component and others are threatening not to come unless it's included.
"We decided to ask the SLRD to let us take a step back, work with all groups concerned and move forward with a revised plan," he said.
There is mixed sentiment in Britannia Beach. Many residents wrote to the SLRD in support of the plan, saying they want development to happen in their community and this is an opportunity it should take advantage of.
Many of them likewise took pointed shots at Britannia resident Ralph Fulber, who they said went before a meeting regarding the development and said the community was against it.
Fulber, too, spoke at the SLRD meeting and denied that he ever said that. A Britannia resident since 1984, he wants to see development of something closer to an older proposal, which envisioned a walkable artisan village, similar to Granville Island in Vancouver.
The SLRD board ultimately voted to suspend consideration of Bylaw 1089 and refer the matter back to staff so that they could work with the development corporation and the community. The results of that consultaion will come back to the board.