The end of Land Use Contracts (LUC) should prove positive for affected property owners in Whistler, according to one strata manager.
With LUCs set for termination province-wide in just over eight years, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is working to put zoning in place for the areas they currently govern.
There are eight LUCs in the RMOW, which affect more than 3,000 owners in 60 different strata corporations and 31 fee simple lots.
Moving to traditional zoning should be a positive thing for property owners, said Beau Craig, managing partner with Whistler Resort Management.
"LUCs are so dated to begin with (and) to have different sets of bylaws and zoning in the municipality — that the municipality has no control over — is potentially not advantageous for all the owners in the municipality," Craig said.
"It's tough to enforce and it's tough to do anything with them, so it makes more sense for them to all be aligned with the municipality.
"Now that this is mandated it's definitely a better thing for stratas for sure."
In May of 2014, the Local Government Act was amended to automatically terminate all LUCs on June 30, 2024 — which means municipalities across B.C. must have new zoning in place for these areas before June 30, 2022.
To accomplish that, the RMOW has its work cut out for it in sorting through the finer details.
At its May 3 meeting, RMOW staff outlined its two options: zone all lands affected by LUCs before 2022 and wait for the contracts to terminate automatically, or zone the lands and terminate the LUCs immediately.
Staff will move ahead with the second option, which means the LUCs will be terminated and rezoned at a rate of one or two contracts per year.
"With a sequenced approach we can sort of adjust it along the way," said senior planner Jake Belobaba in a media briefing ahead of the council meeting.
"We can also spread the demands of staff time and other resources over a longer period. If we had to do all of these at once it would be quite difficult and time consuming."
The sequenced approach also provides more time to consult property owners.
The RMOW will hold two annual info sessions for owners under LUCs, and a website dedicated to the process can be found at www.whistler.ca/landusecontracts.
A special email address has been set up for resident questions and concerns as well: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The goal is to transfer the key elements of existing LUCs into the new zoning, while discarding regulations that are no longer needed.
"So our aim is to make sure that what people have now is what they'll have moving forward," Belobaba said. "To ensure that happens, that takes time, so we're being methodical in making sure that we're not going to miss those sort of aspects."
Property owners can appeal to the Board of Variance (BOV) if they're unhappy with the result.
There won't be any cost to owners through the process, unless they apply to the BOV for a temporary exemption from early LUC termination.
"We're hoping that those applications will be fairly rare, because we're not necessarily changing what the rules say," Belobaba said. "There shouldn't be a lot of circumstances where land owners are feeling a situation of hardship, which would warrant an application to the BOV."
Owners will have the chance to bring concerns to the RMOW throughout the discharge process as well.
Land Use Contracts (LUCs) were a regulatory tool used by the province between 1970 and 1980 as a way of contracting all the development regulations that apply to a property.
According to the province, there were about 2,400 LUC's in B.C. as of 2014.
"One of the main elements of a contract is that it could lock in the regulations forever, and then it could render any future land use regulations imposed on the land as inapplicable," Belobaba said.
The LUCs can't be amended in the same manner as zoning bylaws — even for matters of clarity — and were really only intended for one generation of development, Belobaba said.
"Generally speaking, they're obsolete," he said.