By Alison Taylor
Despite a unanimous vote against the First Nations’ golf course/residential application in the Callaghan Valley, Mayor Ken Melamed is not convinced the province will heed Whistler’s concerns.
Local MLA Joan McIntyre said that they are listening to Whistler but that doesn’t mean the province agrees with the resort municipality’s view.
“I understand Whistler’s concern that (the application) may not be compatible with their growth strategy, but on the other hand this is also a time and an opportunity for First Nations to get economic development in the corridor and I know that First Nations have concerns that municipalities (in the corridor) are frustrating their efforts,” said McIntyre.
“The province is saying… we want First Nations to have opportunity for economic development and capacity building. We are saying that loud and clear through our new relationship and I generally support that…. This is not lip service.”
Council considered the application at Monday’s meeting after a request for comment from the provincial Integrated Land Management Bureau in mid-December.
Its feedback was clear — building a residential development beside a golf course in the Callaghan Valley is not consistent with the resort municipality’s growth strategies or its vision in the Whistler2020 plan.
“It is a little disappointing that this application has been made by the First Nations,” said Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, adding that she had hoped their relationship with neighbouring First Nations was a little stronger.
Her colleague, Councillor Gordon McKeever, echoed that disappointment.
“We rejected (the Callaghan) as an opportunity for resident housing,” he said. “The thought of creating a significant market housing subdivision… is something I can’t support.”
Councillor Eckhard Zeidler, who has been active in wilderness conservation initiatives in the areas surrounding Whistler, removed himself from the discussion due to a conflict of interest.
The remaining councillors were relatively quiet on the issue.
When asked after the meeting if he believes the province will go ahead with the development without Whistler’s backing, Mayor Melamed said: “I think they would. They ask for our input but they don’t always act upon it.”
The 12-page joint application by Squamish and Lil’wat Nations details an 18-hole golf course but there is scant information on the residential component of the project.
The official application on the ILMB website shows just two maps. There is no reference on the maps to a residential component.
Bob MacPherson, the municipality’s general manager of community life, explained that though the application deals primarily with the golf course, there is an attempt to do a comprehensive development.