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Creekside rezoning could set 'dangerous precedent'

Council debates adding nine more bed units



Worried about setting a “dangerous precedent” in its bed unit policy, council raised concerns about the proposed redevelopment of a small Creekside building.

The owners of the Karen Crescent building, which is made up of 12 units bordering the highway behind the Husky gas station, have applied for a rezoning that would increase its size.

More importantly, however, the new size and configuration of the building increases the number of bed units associated with the development.

“I don’t think we should be creating more bed units to do this,” said Councillor Tim Wake, who asked staff to find another solution.

Council, on the whole, expressed reservations about increasing the number of bed units, but endorsed the continuing review of the rezoning application.

The overall sentiment from council, said Mayor Ken Melamed, is that it wants the owners to be able to improve their building.

At the heart of this issue, however, is a municipal policy dealing with bed units — the tool the municipality uses to measure development and its cap on growth.

The Official Community Plan (OCP) only allows council to increase the bed unit cap if certain conditions are met, specifically if the development “provides clear and substantial benefits to the community and the resort.”

For example, the bed unit cap was increased by more than 200 units for the Rainbow subdivision, which is supposed to deliver the biggest employee housing project in Whistler.

The Creekside owners believe the redevelopment of their building is in itself a community benefit.

And while the increase is minimal at nine extra bed units, council raised concerns about the precedent it would set in making this decision.

“… The proposal looks much better than what’s there now,” agreed Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

But she raised the concerns about the wording in the OCP.

“…how do we draw the line the next time?”

Several councillors echoed this sentiment.

“Throw us a bone here,” said Councillor Bob Lorriman through staff to the proponents.

“We need something and just improving a building is not it.”

The owners would like to change the building from a 12-unit 514 square metres development (5,500 square feet) to an 11-unit building at 660 square metres (7,100 square feet).

That would make each unit bigger, changing from 43 square metres (462 square feet) to 60 square metres (645 square feet). And that affects the bed unit calculation.

Any unit under 55 square metres has two bed units associated with it and those between 55 and 100 square metres have three bed units.

That means the current development uses 24 bed units while the proposed rezoning would bring the complex to 33 bed units.

Councillor Eckhard Zeidler spoke of his great displeasure in supporting the application and standing before the community as a hypocrite. Earlier this year Zeidler spoke out on the necessity of council to reaffirm its commitment to limit development and stick to the bed cap.

The issue, said Wake, is a good example of where the bed unit approach falls apart.