By Alison Taylor
An unwritten policy that limits council’s contact with
developers seeking a rezoning approval was reaffirmed this week after a letter
inviting council on a site tour of the Riverside RV Resort and Campground.
Riverside owners invited members of council to tour their
facility as it relates to a rezoning application submitted to municipal hall in
February. Their Phase 2 expansion plans include modifications to the original
camping amenities as well as a health and wellness spa facility.
Riverside owners wrote to council saying: “We believe that
staff (has) come away from our on-site meetings with a much greater
appreciation of who we are, what we have achieved, and the level of product we
are striving to provide to our clients in our Phase 2 expansion plans.”
Mayor Ken Melamed reiterated council’s policy Monday night to
keep developers at arm’s length during the early stages of the rezoning
“(The policy) gives a level playing field to all the applicants,”
he said. “This way we put all our faith in staff.”
He explained that by one or two councillors meeting with a
developer, it could cloud the debate at the council table when it comes time to
consider the rezoning.
The policy relaxes somewhat as the project moves through the
rezoning process and reaches the informational open house stage.
There are, however, no ramifications if a councillor decides to
break from policy.
“(The policy) actually existed in the last council but it
wasn’t observed as carefully,” the mayor said. “This council has been trying to
observe the policy more closely. It’s not a hard written rule and councillors
can, if they want to, (meet with developers). They’re encouraged not to.”
P3 lessons reviewed in camera
Council reviewed the lessons learned from the controversial
public/private partnership proposal for expanding the sewage plant behind
closed doors this week.
The meeting was a chance to review some of the missteps and
issues raised during the community debate about the upgrades and long-term
operations of Whistler’s sewage plant.
Because it was held in camera there are no details this week of
what exactly council learned. However, Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden expects
information will be released to the public in the weeks to come.
The estimated cost of pursuing the P3 for the upgrades to the
sewage treatment plant is $1.3 million. Much of the information gathered during
that process can be transferred now that the P3 has been abandoned.
Meanwhile, the most active group in mobilizing support against
the P3 this summer, Whistler Water Watch, has changed its name and its focus.
Whistler Watch will be a watchdog organization to oversee
governance in Whistler.
Their first meeting was held on Tuesday with about 15 people. Organizer Sara Jennings said there was talk also of forming a social justice group in Whistler.