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Council briefs: Infill housing project in Alpine South stalled



Residents in Alpine South will have to keep waiting to see whether the infill housing initiative ever unfolds in their neighbourhood.

In a tight 3-3 vote at last week's public meeting, council put the breaks on a plan that would have allowed extra suites on large lots.

"It is a tough sell for me," said Councillor Tom Thomson, who voted against giving the pilot project third reading. "It is not the kind of experiment that I would like to see in my backyard and I don't feel confident enough to let it take place in someone else's back yard."

Councillor Ted Milner also didn't support the motion out of concern for how infill housing could "downzone" the neighbourhood and impact property values.

And Ralph Forsyth said that despite the fact he loved the idea of infill housing, he was not going to support this iteration of it.

The current proposal was not broad enough in scope geographically, said Forsyth.

"There are lots of opportunities outside Alpine South that would be great candidates for infill housing, and I think there has to be a market component explored there."

The three councillors stood in direct opposition to the other council members - Mayor Ken Melamed and Councillors Grant Lamont and Chris Quinlan. Those three voted in favour of allowing Alpine South homeowners to split their properties, build multiple suites on their land or develop duplexes. Councillor Eckhard Zeidler was absent from the meeting.

"My take on this is that the potential negative impacts are far outweighed by the benefits," said Melamed.

"The fact is, in the years we have been exploring this, there has not been a bursting demand. My sense is that the uptake would be minimal, and this would be seen as a pilot project. Potential for uptake is at best one or two lots, with no risk of transforming Alpine South as we know it."

Lamont added that the "fear mongering that goes on is at a fevered pitch."

As a result of the council stalemate the pilot project has been put back on the shelf.

But because Zeidler was absent from the meeting, the project may come before council a second time, the mayor said after the public council meeting.

Melamed added that regardless, infill is something council may consider again in the future.

"It doesn't mean it is over forever," he said.

The infill housing concept is seven years in the making and involved multiple open houses and community meetings. The intent is to increase the number of affordable units available.

Earlier this month, a public hearing was held to bring the initiative to third reading. All four people who spoke at the meeting gave the plan a thumbs down and asked council to delay passing the plan until Whistler's rental situation stabilizes.

Hilton, Amsterdam get more seats

Two bars in Whistler will be getting more licensed seats.

Last week, six council members unanimously agreed to allow the Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa to add a lounge to their restaurant as well as 28 seats to the Cinnamon Bear Bar.

The resolution passed with little discussion.

Upping the seat count is a "house keeping" item that will bring Cinnamon Bear up to regulation, said Councillor Chris Quinlan, who is also president of the Restaurant Association of Whistler.

Provincial regulations allow any restaurant with more than 50 seats to have 20 per cent of those morph into a food-optional lounge, he added.

Amsterdam Pub, owned by O&R Entertainment, is also increasing its licensed capacity.

In early May, Whistler's Liquor License Advisory Council voted to allow the pub on Village Stroll to increase its outdoor patio seating from 25 to 35.

According to the advisory council's meeting minutes, in 2003 the patio was physically expanded, but the establishment never applied to increase its licensed capacity beyond the size of the original patio. The Whistler Fire Department then determined that Amsterdam's patio capacity is 35 people.

RMOW takes over old hostel site

Now that the new Hostelling International (HI) hostel is open in Cheakamus Crossing, the municipality has taken possession of Whistler's old hostel site.

The site has several buildings on it in addition to the old hostel, with many of those buildings rented out.

"Current uses of the site are being honoured until new plans are made," said Mayor Ken Melamed during his mayor's report at the public council meeting last week.

"There will be a public process undertaken to determine future uses of the site and a development scheme."

The municipality bought the old HI site, where the hostel opened in 1969, for $2.7 million.