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CC1 rezoning bylaw draws a crowd

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One of the first things anyone is going to see when they come to Whistler for the Olympic Games is a discount store and a run down building.

That was the way concerned property owner Linda Simpson put it during the CC1 bylaw public hearing Monday night.

Simpson, owner of a unit in Rainbow Suites, said that owners want to do minor upgrades to the building but will not be able to if this new bylaw is passed.

“Rainbow is in dire need of some kind of facelift,” said Simspon.

“We want our buildings to look good, but we don’t want to increase the footprint. All we want to do is make what we have nicer.”

The Rainbow Suites building is located near Village Square, above The Grocery Store, and across the way from the Clearance Centre.

Simpon is concerned about a proposed new bylaw that would require owners wanting to renovate and expand their buildings to apply for a rezoning application, instead of the currently required building permit, which would mean a much more expensive and lengthy process.

Specifically, the CC1 bylaw would limit expansion of buildings in the original village to 20 square metres.

Council is concerned that adding height and mass to these buildings will interfere with the original village design, created in 1978, which aims to maximize mountain views and sunlight access.

Several property owners believe they have the right to build to a maximum floor-space ratio of 3.5, and have called the proposed bylaw “down zoning.” Most buildings in the zone are not currently built to a FSR of 3.5.

Simpon’s comments were echoed by four other CC1 property owners at the public hearing Monday night, including community member Bill Dickson, president of the Telemark Strata Council, who stressed the need for council to make it easier for minor work to be done.

“I would wish to express one point, which is to strongly request that you ask staff to go back and find some way of streamlining or exempting small additions or alterations on developments,” he said.

The evening, though, was punctuated when property owner Dennis Hilton asked council to take a “sober second thought” at what might come down the road if the CC1 bylaw is passed.

“Every decision of this magnitude does not have unintended consequences,” said Hilton. “The question is what they might be for Whistler.”

Hilton expressed concern that village property values will go down since owners will not be able to make money off their investment.

Mayor Ken Melamed later responded to Hilton’s call, saying: “Council heard those comments.”

“It will take a sober second look, and it will try and address some of the concerns addressed by some of the smaller properties.”

Not all are against the proposed CC1 bylaw, however.

Community member David Kirk supported the proposed bylaw, calling it far overdue.

“We have been aware in this community for the need to protect solar areas in the village and view corridors,” said Kirk.

“Over time, we have lost three if not four major corridors because the legislation that this involves was not here, and therefore things went in different direction than what they should have.”

The area in question stretches from Tantalus Lodge to Village Gate Boulevard and Blackcomb Way, and affects 30 village properties. The bylaw process has been ongoing for several years.

The bylaw will go to council for third reading in the near future, along with a similar bylaw that applies specifically to Blackcomb Lodge and design guidelines for village view and solar protection guidelines.

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