Opinion » Editorial


Land-use issues, also known as development, have been the source of a lot of consternation in Whistler in the 1990s. For years now people have grown increasingly frustrated with the pace and scope of development, but have had little recourse. "The bed units were committed years ago," "it was part of the village (or Village North) master plan," or "it was necessary in order to make Whistler a four-season resort," were some of the most common refrains. But as buildout gets closer there are relatively few major land-use issues still to be decided. The major — but not the only — remaining parcels of land which may be developed include Creekside, the BC Rail lands on the west side of Alta Lake, the Decigon lands, the Prospero property at the south end of Alpine Meadows, the Parkhurst property now owned by Appia Developments and some Crown land south of Emerald Estates. Some of the issues and needs which could be tied to those lands, in addition to residential development, include the highway bypass, a university, a second elementary school and perhaps the Olympics. These are the big (in size) land-use issues still to be decided, but the smaller (in size) land-use issues might be the more complex and divisive. The smaller ones are likely to be "in-fill" developments, in or near existing subdivisions. They may include employee housing — such as the 19 Mile Creek proposal — or they may involve rezoning applications for additional pensions, bed & breakfasts or perhaps "legal" chalet or villa style accommodation, the municipality having indicated it may lift the moratorium on further pensions and B&Bs and may require chalets and villas to go through the rezoning process. Each of these in-fill projects is going to face some opposition; change is rarely embraced whole heartedly. A case can certainly be made for preserving neighbourhoods and providing existing residents with some certainty about what is going to take place in their back yards. But that has to be balanced with the needs of the community. The growing fear is that each in-fill project could become a neighbourhood battle, and if it isn’t resolved to the neighbourhood’s satisfaction at municipal hall it may be resolved in a court of law. It’s happened once already with a pension in Whistler Creek. This may be the biggest threat to Whistler as it reaches buildout; having land-use decisions taken out of local, municipal hands. It would also be ironic, given that one of the complaints about some of the major land-use decisions of the past has been that they weren’t made locally.