News » Whistler

Council rejects proposal for Woods at Rainbow

'Nothing you can do that mayor and council will support at Rainbow'



The Resort Municipality of Whistler and developer Rod Nadeau are once again at odds.

On Tuesday night - just two months after The Woods at Rainbow lawsuit was dropped - council voted against Nadeau's latest plans for his remaining seniors' housing building on Lot 11 at Rainbow.

"There is nothing you can do that the mayor and council will support at Rainbow," said Nadeau on Wednesday morning after learning about the decision. "Every time we have an initiative to make things better, there is push back from the municipality."

This time around, Nadeau was hoping to get the rezoning necessary to increase the building from 20 units to 22 units. The increase was already approved in the development permit he received in November.

"That was authorized by council in the development permit, but when we went to get a building permit, they realized there was a contradiction between the development permit and the zoning," explained Nadeau. "So it wasn't my mistake. It was their mistake."

Nadeau said those two extra units would have allowed him to create smaller, more affordable units in the Rainbow condominium building.

"We were trying to be versatile and offer less expensive homes, but I guess council doesn't want us to offer less expensive homes," said Nadeau. "Or maybe they didn't take that into consideration."

Tension between Nadeau and the municipality has been palpable for months.

At one time, Nadeau was set to develop two buildings of seniors' housing at The Woods at Rainbow, Lot 10 and Lot 11. Each building originally was supposed to have 20 units, although Nadeau negotiated to put 16 units in one building and 22 in the other.

Since that time, council voted in a closed-door meeting to reject the proposal and take over the Lot 10 development. Council was concerned that Nadeau's pricing was too high for a resident-restricted seniors' housing complex. But Nadeau withheld turning over the Lot 10 building, hoping that down the road he could convince future council members to change their minds.

The municipality then filed a lawsuit against Nadeau in mid-May; Nadeau handed over the parcel the following week.

Tuesday night's vote came after Mayor Ken Melamed spoke strongly against the rezoning proposal.

The mayor is concerned that The Woods' unique selling schedule means anyone can now buy into the development that was designed for seniors only.

"It was presumed this would be seniors' housing," said Melamed. "Now it is not. It is essentially market housing."

The units went on sale in February. In the first month, the selling schedule allowed only seniors who are retired or residents to buy the condominiums. In the following month, any senior could purchase. And in the third month, the units went onto the open market.

"The only reason we grant new bed units in Whistler is for resident housing or for items which come out of that clause of the Official Community Plan which provide clear and significant benefit to the community," said the mayor. "I won't support this recommendation."

The mayor voted against Nadeau's proposal, as did Councillors Grant Lamont and Chris Quinlan. The 3-3 vote caused the motion to fail. Councillor Eckhard Zeilder was absent.

Meanwhile, Nadeau said six of the 20 units at The Woods have sold. Five of those sales were to seniors; one went to a younger couple.

He added: "The interesting thing is it is still mostly Whistler seniors who seem to be looking at them."

"Because the time period has expired on the right of the seniors to buy them first, anybody can buy them," said Nadeau. "But the interesting thing is it still is mostly Whistler seniors who seem to be looking at them."

When two-thirds of the units sell Nadeau will begin building the market housing.