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Developer presents two options to acquire bed units



Haibeck proposes to transfer units from Zen lands or entice council with community benefits

Vancouver developer John Haibeck wants to "let the community decide" the fate of his multi-million project on Nita Lake.

"I feel it’s important that the story be told on this project," said Haibeck at the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment’s monthly meeting Sept. 5, where he publicly unveiled the two options for his development proposal.

What he proposes for Whistler is a brand new train station to replace the old one at the end of Lake Placid Road, along with a luxury 80-room hotel.

And in the 23 nearby acres of land that he bought from John Taylor he will put up 11 estate homes and an employee housing complex with 30 units.

The one major glitch in Haibeck’s plans is bed units; he doesn’t have enough to build what he is proposing.

He has two options: to buy land with existing bed units, transfer the bed units to his Creekside property, and in return donate the purchased land to the municipality to be preserved in trust; or to ask council to create more bed units for his project in return for community cash benefits.

Now he is looking to the public for some input on the options.

At the AWARE meeting Haibeck explained how the options came about over the course of two years.

When he first started thinking about revamping the train station and developing John Taylor’s lands, the only existing bed units he could find were ones owned by John Zen.

Zen has 242 units sitting on Lot 3, a portion of his 127 acres located just north of Function Junction. Years ago Zen’s property was zoned for a trailer park.

Lot 3 is the contentious wetland portion of his lands – the portion that the municipality has looked at preserving in the past.

Buying Lot 3 would cost Haibeck $5.2 million.

Last year however, council gave first and second reading to a rezoning bylaw which would "downzone" the Lot 3 wetlands.

The downzoning would eliminate virtually all permitted uses on the land, with the exception of a public nature conservation park, a private nature conservation park, unsheltered ecotourism-based use, or an unsheltered school for teaching ecotourism and other nature-based programs.

Although Zen would still own the land, the downzoning would take away his right to develop his bed units on it.

It would also hijack a potential sale to Haibeck.

It’s been more than a year since the downzoning was first proposed but the bylaw has yet to be adopted by council.