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creekside design

By Loreth Beswetherick Lessons have been learned from the creation of Whistler Village and taken to heart in the final design guidelines established for Intrawest’s redevelopment at the Whistler Creek base area. Whistler Creek will look different from the village and it will look different from other resort destinations across North America. This was the message to come out of Intrawest architect Ray Letkeman’s presentation to council last week. "We tried to define what Whistler Creek should be," Letkeman said. The Creekside base development will have less of a commercial and more of a small town feel, the architect said. It will meet community needs, reflect the alpine character and Whistler’s historical roots. Key to establishing ambience will be the eclectic architectural style of the buildings. New buildings will be designed to convey a sense they have been developed over a period of time rather than appearing as an instant, new real estate development. They will incorporate a mix of historical styles and building materials and vary in height as if they have been added to over the years. Public art will be incorporated throughout the new village. Councillors voted to adopt the design guidelines as policy for the Creekside development. Adoption of the guidelines was one of the outstanding items required before Intrawest’s Whistler South Comprehensive Development Strategy receives final approved. The design guidelines will be registered on title at the first subdivision of the lands. In that way all present and future owners will be aware of the design intended for the area. Councillors were generally pleased with result. Councillor Ken Melamed said he was happy to see a move away from commercialism and Disneyfied development. Certain aspects of the design guideline package may, however, require revisiting some municipal bylaws. The guidelines call for kiosks and information or menu boards, which are currently not permitted. The kiosks are intended to provide small commercial and retail opportunities, like flower stands or newsstands. Letkeman said Intrawest is also looking at innovative signage which may require taking Whistler’s sign bylaws "to the next level," as has been done in Tremblant. Councillor Dave Kirk agreed Whistler sign laws need some tinkering. He said Whistler village may benefit from ground breaking done at Creekside. The design guidelines were originally drafted by Eldon Beck Associates for Intrawest but refined through workshops with municipal staff. They provide general and specific design information so all involved in the development of designs or in the approval process are able to proceed with a shared base of information. Mayor Hugh O’Reilly said the current proposals for Creekside are a far cry from what was first put on the table in 1990. He said significant improvements have been made. Intrawest had hoped to go before council for fourth reading of the Whistler South CDS before Christmas. Intrawest Resort Development Group vice president Doug Ogilvy said the corporation is now shooting for early next year. The delay will mean a setback for the new elementary school. If the school is to open doors in September 2001 the school district needs title of the designated land within the next few months. Before the land can be transferred, Intrawest needs that final CDS approval. A formal application for Intrawest to acquire the Spring Creek acreage from the Crown can then be made to the B.C. Assets and Lands Corporation. In November Ogilvy said Intrawest was aiming to have title in the school district’s hands by February.