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cds pulled

‘Technical" issues between municipality and Intrawest hold up Whistler South plans sub: Decision to pull strategy from agenda does not sit well with school trustee By Loreth Beswetherick It was still on the agenda when Monday night’s council meeting was called to order by acting mayor Kristi Wells. But, in the back rooms of municipal hall, mayor Hugh O’Reilly and administrator Jim Godfrey were still furiously thrashing out technical details of the Whistler South Comprehensive Development Strategy with planners and Intrawest representatives. By the time O’Reilly joined the meeting an hour later, the Whistler South CDS had, once again, been pulled from the council agenda. That could mean no new elementary school until the year 2002. The comprehensive strategy lays out the direction for three major Intrawest projects:– the redevelopment of Whistler Creek and the development of the new Spring Creek and Peaks subdivisions. It is a comprehensive all-or-nothing package to be passed by only two bylaws - one that amends the Official Community Plan and one that rezones the entire area for the proposed development. Tied up in the bylaw are community amenities including the new elementary school site, a daycare, parks and Valley Trail extensions. The CDS package was on the council agenda Sept. 20 for third reading but it was postponed to the Oct. 4 meeting where it was again pulled and put off to the Oct. 18 council meeting. O’Reilly said after the Monday Oct. 18 meeting there are still unresolved technical issues. He couldn’t say what components of the strategy were holding up open debate on the issue. "I can’t be specific. There are some issues between ourselves and Intrawest," said O’Reilly. He added this is one of the last major developments for Whistler. "We need to give it careful consideration. I think we need to be cautious and prudent in making sure we get the best deal we can." Monday’s postponement of the CDS bylaws did not sit well with school trustee Andrée Janyk who was at the council meeting. She told councillors the delay means a new elementary school may not open until the year 2002. "I am concerned every time we delay it." Janyk said after the meeting she wanted to remind councillors of the pressures at the overcrowded Myrtle Philip Community School. She said the school board feels sandwiched in the middle. "For the last six months we have just been sitting and waiting," said Janyk. "We can’t do anything right now. We are not privy to in-camera meetings, and I understand that, but yea or nay, we just need to know so we can get on with it." Janyk said she is concerned the further delay could result in more pressure to add on to Myrtle Philip school which currently has 540 students. Janyk said municipal planners and the school board agree an ideal elementary facility should not exceed 350 pupils. "I am wondering where we will put more portables. In another year we will be eating up more fields and we can’t afford that when we get 200 kids playing soccer out there." Janyk said it will take about eight months from the time Intrawest applies to raise title for the Crown land. Title then needs to be transferred from Intrawest to the school board. "Once we get title, we can get our funding and start panning the school." O’Reilly said the school issue is "first and foremost" in everyone’s mind. "But at the same time we have a bigger responsibility here." O’Reilly said he is not sure which way the deal is going to go. He said there are still councillors concerned with the proposal and he expects lively debate on the plans. "We want to get a chance to get at it and discuss it and see where we all stand. It’ll definitely happen at the next meeting." O’Reilly said mixed signals have likely gone out to the Ministry of Education. "They certainly aren’t going to start spending funds if there is no certainty. We have to provide some certainty. We have to get the message across -- either the deal is on or the deal is off. Time is running out and we have to deal with this." O’Reilly said once the CDS is dealt with and, if it is successful, council will do everything in its power to help expedite the process for the new school. Myrtle Philip Parent Advisory Council chair Leslie Patterson said that Myrtle Philip cannot handle more kids. "We are only going to get bigger next year." She said the school keeps getting more portables but infrastructure needs aren’t being addressed. "We are not getting any new washrooms or fields or gyms or a bigger library. It’s wear and tear on our school. It takes its toll. It’s hard on the kids. It’s hard on the staff ... and we already have a funding issue now." The CDS went to public hearing Sept. 13 where several residents raised concerns about the access road to the Peaks subdivision and the traffic it would generate in Bayshores. Other concerns included the school site proposed for the Spring Creek subdivision which is smaller than most. Some people took issue with the fact council has to approve all three major projects with one bylaw in order to receive the community amenities promised.