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Fill dumped into Green Lake

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Owner ordered to stop work while case is under investigation

A property owner in Emerald Estates has been ordered by provincial conservation officers to stop dumping material into Green Lake.

The stop work order came after concerned neighbours appealed to the local authorities about the loss of a small wetland on the property.

Neighbours say truckloads of rocks, sand and gravel were dumped at the end of an empty lot at 9253 Lakeshore Drive, into a small marshland, in an effort to create more land.

"I was a neighbour who was pushed too far," said Pat Rowntree, a resident of Lakeshore Drive.

She said the land that was filled in is normally under water in the spring and the summer and thinks that the landfill was an attempt to increase the size of the property. The lot is listed on the Whistler Real Estate Web site as a 13,340 square foot lot.

The Web site calls the Lakeshore Drive property, "A rare opportunity to own 175 ft. of waterfrontage on Green Lake... Create your dream chalet."

But angry residents say the area’s environment is suffering at the hands of bigger and more expensive development.

"When it gets this bad that somebody starts filling over wetland for more money, I think it’s gone too far," said Rowntree.

The lot is a small dusty piece of property at the end of a cul-de-sac. There is a For Sale sign posted at the top of the lot. The Web site has the property listed at $1.8 million.

Don Wensley, a realtor with Whistler Real Estate, owns the Emerald property. He did not return calls from Pique Newsmagazine.

District Conservation Officer Barry Farynuk was not willing to comment in detail as the matter is under investigation.

"They were verbally told to stop works and complied to that order," he said.

"They have told me they have no plans to do any further work until they have approval."

Farynuk, who is based in Squamish, said the stop work order was invoked from Section 9 of the provincial Water Act, which states work in a stream or a lake must first be approved.

This work had no approval.

One of the fish and wildlife technicians with the municipality was at the site last week.

"It’s not horrible," said Lisa Helmer.

"To most people it would look totally fine."

But Helmer is concerned about the potential loss of habitat for animals along the lakeshore.

That area is called the lattorial zone, she said.

"That’s a zone that a lot of species rely on for certain stages of their life," said Helmer.

"In general lakefront habitat is used by breeding and nesting waterfowl and it’s used by salmonid fry that rear in areas like that."

She said the goal of the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship group is for no net loss of habitat.

She is pleased that the residents in Emerald stepped forward when they saw the trucks of fill heading for Green Lake.

"It’s nice when neighbourhoods stay alert and form their own stewardship groups," she said.

"That’s always a good thing that we encourage."

Rowntree, who has called Whistler home for the past 20 years and has been living on Lakeshore Drive since 1995, said the owners went too far this time.

"This is a real sad comment," she said.

On the other hand, Helmer said it is important not to condemn people too quickly.

"Every lot has fill in it so it’s not abnormal," she said.

"We’re not upset about fill going into a property... It’s where the fill ends and the habitat begins that might be a concern."

She said the Lakeshore Drive is not the only property in Whistler that’s using landfill in this way.

"A lot of people just aren’t aware of the impact that development has," she said.

"If anything, this is another learning experience for people to learn about fill and lakefront properties."

Farynuk agreed that it’s common around the province.

He said the investigation could take up to a month before it is complete.

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