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Decades-old developed crawl space now legitimate

Permits and inspections still needed to make spaces safe

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A 14-unit condo complex in Nordic will be the testing ground of sorts for bringing hidden developed spaces, presumed to be rife in Whistler, into the light.

"I would love to see more of these come in and get rectified," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, of the application brought forward by owners.

The issue of illegal space is one this council pledged to tackle, convening the illegal space task force immediately after the election and developing bylaws to deal with single-family homes and duplexes.

Over the past 30 years at Nordic Vistas, nestled into a steep site on Castle Drive, some homeowners have developed crawl spaces below their units to be used as additional gross floor area. The problem is that the areas are not on any plans and therefore not subject to safety inspections — effectively not legitimate.

The owners now want to legitimize that space. It is within the zoning at Nordic Vistas to do so.

That, in effect, makes this a relatively simple process.

"This might be a good one to start," said Councillor Duane Jackson, who leads the illegal space task force. "I suggest we move forward and learn from it."

He was concerned, however, to learn if all the owners were on board with the move. Twelve owners support it, two have not replied, he learned.

Councillor Jack Crompton was keen to point out that council's move is just the first step. Owners will still need to secure building permits and inspections to ensure the space is up to code.

"We're not making a statement here that these are safe to be lived in," he said.

Adding the gross floor area triggers a need for more parking on the site from 14 to 19. Council agreed to "vary" or keep the parking requirements to 14 — one per unit.

Cell towers growing issue

Cell phone towers have caught the eye of council. A debate about the proliferation of towers and council's control, or lack thereof, of them sprung out of a letter from a concerned Alpine family this week.

The proposed Alpine tower is also of concern to Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, given it's at the end of her street.

"I don't know about the health concerns but I do know about eyesore concerns," she said.

"Do we have any jurisdiction?"

Council, she learned, doesn't; cell towers are federal jurisdiction. But council can weigh in on the debate during the Crown land referral process.

"It is a growing issue in the community for us," said senior municipal planner Mike Kirkegaard.

He informed council that another company is looking to install a tower at the corner of Lorimer Road and Highway 99.

"That's shocking," said Wilhelm-Morden.

Staff is in discussions with the company for an alternate location.

"I think that they're receptive and they're looking at alternate sights as well," assured Kirkegaard.

"Being able to provide this kind of service within our resort community is very important."

Mons bylaws adopted

Developer Steve Bayly has cleared the final hurdle for his Mons development. Council adopted the bylaws Tuesday night, marking the end of a five-year process that looked like it could be derailed only a few months ago.

The approval clears the way for a maximum 200,000 square foot build out on the site north of Nesters on the west side of the highway.

Park renaming request

Council is considering a request from the Whistler Museum to rename the small park close to it after founder Florence Petersen.

"We felt like it was at least a very minimal gesture for the contribution of Florence Petersen," said Councillor Jayson Faulkner, who sits on the museum's board.

Petersen died on Aug. 28. She was 83-years-old.

Municipal staff will be reporting back to council on the museum's request.

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