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Delta makes plans to expand

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Council sanctions plans which will bring more rooms to the Delta

The owners of the Delta Whistler Resort are planning to add more units to their hotel, despite a temporary freeze on development in the commercial core zone.

The preliminary plans for development were given the nod of approval from council on Monday night after a presentation from both the developers and the municipality’s general manager of planning and development service, Bob MacPherson.

At the meeting MacPherson asked for council feedback on the plans to date, advising them that they could either vote to move ahead with the staff review of the development or put the project on the backburner until all the complex issues in the CC1 zone are resolved.

Councillor Nick Davies said it was good to see owners still wanting to invest in the village despite the slow winter season.

He also thought it was wise to add more floor area to the existing structure and voted to move ahead with the plans.

"We’ve got to start putting more construction on less land in this community," he said.

The proposed additional GFA at the Delta will bring 10 townhouses to the centre courtyard of the hotel, on the existing tennis court.

The plans also include more retail space near Mountain Square with accommodation above it, as well as adding a fifth floor to the south wing of the hotel. That extra floor, which will create loft rooms in the hotel, will add roughly two and a half metres to the roofline.

The proposed GFA will total just less than 3,500 square metres. This is just a portion of the additional floor area that is theoretically available to the Delta under the CC1 permitted floor space ratio.

Before the freeze on development each building in the CC1 had the potential to expand its GFA to 3.5 square metres per square metre of the property parcel area.

There was huge potential for the CC1 to grow because most buildings like the Delta are not at their maximum permitted GFA.

Both Councillors Kristi Wells and Marianne Wade said it was a level of comfort to them that the Delta developers were only looking to build about 20 per cent of what they are technically allowed to build.

They also asked staff to look at ways put limits on the Delta that would stop the hotel owners from developing the extra 80 per cent down the road.

Wells said it was a good precedent for future development in the commercial core if the Delta is voluntarily reducing their allowable GFA by 80 per cent.

But Councillor Ken Melamed argued that it was a little misleading to the community to say that the hotel could even build out to its maximum permitted GFA.

That scenario is impractical he said.

"(We’re) sending out a false message to the community because 100 per cent was never achievable," he added.

Melamed was opposed to the plans to add more space saying the developers have not given enough reason to move forward. Yet he was supportive of the developers doing structural improvements to the 25-year-old hotel.

The renovations and restorations to the Delta have been underway since 2000.

The additional GFA will offset some of these costs for the developers.

Council recognized that Delta’s application was already in the works when they passed the CC1 moratorium in December.

As such, a majority council voted to move ahead with Melamed the only councillor in opposition.

MacPherson noted council’s directions and said the Delta application for development should be coming before council within eight months.

Other buildings in the CC1, with a few more exceptions, will remain at their current floor area until a new policy is developed.

Municipal staff is trying to get an accurate picture of the built floor areas in the CC1 zone before presenting a draft bylaw to council, which will highlight new policy for the area.

Since the moratorium three months ago council has approved more GFA development in the Crystal Lodge and has now given direction for the same to happen at the Delta.

Both applications were underway before the moratorium was put in place.

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