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Council demands more from Function developer

Employee housing moves forward with list of outstanding concerns



Council has created a "shopping list" of demands for a Function Junction developer looking to build 30 units of employee housing.

Among other things, council would like to know if there is a demand for housing in Whistler’s industrial park among the more than 500 people/families on the employee housing waitlist.

They would also like to see a sidewalk and street lighting as part of the deal.

For developer Don Wensley and his business partner Mark Pedlow, council’s demands at this point in time are disappointing, particularly as they feel they have been negotiating in good faith ever since they were first approached to build this project.

"After five months of time, after three council meetings and one Advisory Planning meeting and many discussions with the planning department and the Whistler Housing Authority, we are faced with a couple of members of council wanting to move the goalposts in a most unreasonable way," said Wensley, the morning after council’s Monday night decision.

The project, which will sit at the north-end of Function, is set to add 30 units of employee housing to the resort. The units will be for sale and will come in at the WHA established benchmark price of $175/square foot.

On Monday night at the public hearing for the development, a handful of residents spoke in favour of putting employee housing in Function.

Former councillor Dave Kirk, who owns property with a suite in Function, encouraged council to consider housing there.

"In my opinion there is some low hanging fruit (down there) that should be seized," he said.

Yet concerns remain about putting the project in the industrial centre.

Councillor Kristi Wells wanted to put the project on hold while council received a formal response from Whistler Transit explaining whether or not they can bring the bus to the north end of Function. She also wanted to canvass the waitlist to see what the take up would be on this project.

Her request to delay, though supported by Wade and Councillor Ken Melamed, was defeated by Councillors Gordon McKeever, Nick Davies and Mayor Hugh O’Reilly’s weighted vote. Councillor Caroline Lamont removed herself from the discussion due to a conflict of interest.

To solve the impasse, Councillor Marianne Wade came up with a list of concerns which she said needed to be addressed in order to move the project ahead.

"I would absolutely love to give affordable housing," said Councillor Marianne Wade. "This is not the best project."

Among her concerns was the lack of lighting and sidewalks in the Function Junction, a concern which was also brought up earlier that night at the public hearing. Residents in the new building would have to walk roughly 10 minutes to the closest bus stop down a busy, dirty road. Wade was concerned about safety and liability issues for the municipality.

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