By Andrew Mitchell
Developers of the Rainbow housing project have been busy this summer preparing the site for future development of a residential neighbourhood that will one day include 301 housing units. At this stage all of the clearing has been completed, and work crews are busy sorting and composting organic material and topsoil that will be used to backfill and landscape the area, and using spare material to fill in the gravel pit.
“We’re trying to be very environmentally sensitive in our use of material, everything we dig up will be put to use somewhere,” said Rod Nadeau, one of the partners of Whistler Rainbow Properties.
At the same time developers are working to get environmental notification for culverts they will need to build for local creeks, which are dry this time of year. As well, they are doing some preliminary design work on houses and duplexes.
Nadeau says there will be an open house through the Whistler Housing Authority where residents can look at the proposed homes and make comments and suggestions in the near future.
The housing units will be customizable to a degree.
“Because of the different topography of the area — uphill lots, downhill lots, wide lots, narrow lots — there is going to be a lot of differentiation in the homes themselves,” said Nadeau. “So we’ll have a variety of houses to start with and then we’ll allow as much customization as we can because at the end of the day these are people’s homes, and we want to try to make it as good as we can for people.”
Developers are also working on the overall design for the neighbourhood.
“Now we’re in the engineering, design and architecture phase, which means we’re doing things like designing parks and shelters, trail layout, bus shelters — we’re working on a cool bus shelter for the entrance,” said Nadeau. “It’s a huge job just to build the infrastructure of a subdivision, which is really our focus right now.
“To put a culvert in we had… to get a debris torrent study to determine how much water would be moving through the culvert and if debris is coming with it, then we have to get the environment guys in, a geotechnical engineer, a pre-hazard assessment engineer, a civil engineer, a structural engineer and an environmental consultant to make an application to the Ministry of Environment — and that’s just for one culvert.”
No concrete or asphalt will be poured until the project receives a fourth reading and the final go ahead is received from Whistler Council, which Nadeau expects to happen in early 2007. Even with that timeframe Nadeau says the goal, “is to have people move into some of the homes for Christmas 2007.”
The Rainbow development bylaws received third reading in May. The developers originally hoped to have a fourth reading by the fall of 2006 but that was held up over concerns about the size of the commercial space allocated to the project, the amount of market housing planned, and servicing costs for the site.
Nadeau says the commercial core will not be completed until after the neighbourhood is finished, and developers are not currently in discussion with any businesses interested in running any of the commercial businesses slated for the site. Services include a gas station, grocery store, video store and coffee shop, as well as some limited office space.
The developers will issue a request for proposals when they are ready to start building the commercial phase, said Nadeau.
Rainbow will include at least 220 resident homes, including 40 units for seniors, and 51 market homes. Still to be decided is whether the builders will include rental housing.