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Callaghan in a planning vacuum, says FWAC

Council defers commercial tenures until master plan in place

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Whistler wants a say in the future of the Callaghan Valley, its backyard wilderness playground.

That’s why council this week decided to write a letter to the province asking that all commercial tenure applications in the valley be deferred until a master plan is in place.

"There is a planning vacuum here," said Al Whitney in a presentation to council Monday night.

Whitney is chair of the Forest and Wildland Advisory Committee, a group formed by council to provide input and direction on those issues.

He also asked council to consider initiating the planning process for the Callaghan Valley, which though not within municipal boundaries for the most part, has long been considered an integral part of Whistler’s outdoor playground.

In recent weeks FWAC has been asked to consider three commercial lease extensions for companies with recreational tenures in the Callaghan Valley, explained Whitney. They were asked by the province to vet those proposals and either approve or reject them.

"We thought it was irresponsible to do either," explained Whitney.

Brad Sills, co-owner/operator of Callaghan Country, a backcountry tour company with a lodge in the valley, has a commercial tenure in the Callaghan and has applied for a change to that tenure. He was surprised to hear of council’s decision when contacted by Pique Newsmagazine Wednesday morning.

He said it’s an about-face on an earlier plan – the Protected Areas Strategy – which allows low impact wilderness-oriented recreation, such as offered by Callaghan Country.

"To suggest that there hasn’t been any planning is erroneous – it’s simply not true," said Sills. "It’s an excuse not to allow existing businesses to flourish."

Callaghan Country’s tenure application is for security of tenure and land access around its lodge, in exchange for land used by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games for the Nordic events. Callaghan Country’s existing tenure overlaps the area needed by VANOC.

FWAC was also asked to consider a proposal from the municipal engineering department to put the new waste transfer station in the Callaghan.

They have asked council to reject that plan and asked the engineering department to find another location.

Council decided to write a letter to the Integrated Land Management Bureau asking them to defer any and all current and future tenure applications in the Callaghan Valley until a planning process has been completed.

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