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First Nations input sought in OCP update

More zoning needed for future development on Whistler land



Council and neighbouring First Nations met recently to discuss land use planning as Whistler works to update its Official Community Plan (OCP).

As the biggest landowners within the municipal boundaries, a legacy from the 2010 Olympic Games, the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations are an integral part of land use planning in the future.

"We've asked the Nations to provide us a draft context statement to be added in to the OCP that reflects the relationship between the land use plans of the First Nations and how they relate to Whistler's OCP," said Mayor Ken Melamed.

When asked if First Nations know what they want to do with the land, the mayor said: "Yes and no.

"Yes, in the fact that we tried to spell out as clearly as possible in the Legacy Land Agreement what constraints there might be on those lands - constraints or opportunities," said the mayor.

The province transferred 300 acres of Crown land to the Nations in the lead up to the Olympic Games. Whistler also got 300 acres of Crown land for the development of employee housing.

In addition to the five acres of land in Function Junction, zoned for commercial uses and now wholly owned by the Lil'wat Nation, the First Nations own a large parcel of land in Emerald Estates on the southwest side of the highway, a section of land north of Emerald at the Cougar Pit and three large parcels in the Callaghan Valley.

Called the Resort Land Trust, the bulk of the land is zoned Rural Resource, essentially without development rights. One parcel in the Callaghan is zoned Resort Infrastructure and the Nations at one time looked at the possibility of developing a golf course in that area.

"They expressed an interest in ongoing discussions about what the potential uses are but at this point in time we revert back to the agreement which says they'll respect the existing zoning on those lands," said the mayor, referring to the Legacy Land Agreement.

"That doesn't mean that the Nations can't come forward at any given point and pursue whatever opportunities there might be."

Chiefs for the Nations were not available Tuesday for comment.

In addition to the meetings with First Nations, council also had a two-hour workshop Tuesday morning on sections of the OCP, specifically around economic viability and growth management.

The mayor said it tried to keep the discussion at a high level.

"There's no real surprises," said the mayor of the update. "It's a recommitment to existing policy and direction and if anything a strengthening of some of the growth management policies but with an eye to the future and new opportunities."

Council plans to workshop the remaining sections of the OCP, including land use and development, climate action and energy and transportation.

The OCP update is expected to be complete by the fall.