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First Nations’ plans raise concerns

Open house scheduled for three parcels; distribution of bed units questioned

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A gas station in Function Junction and more houses behind the Rainbow neighbourhood are just some of the amenities the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations want to build on their Whistler plots of land.

And while not all Whistler councillors are comfortable with the proposals, council gave staff permission this week to pencil in a public open house on Monday, July 14, at the brand new Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.

“This is simply an effort to get input from the community,” explained Mayor Ken Melamed.

“I do not think this is ready for prime time, but this is just a first brush at public input. I do not think this commits us to a path.”

Councillors are concerned that the precise details on two projects have not yet been hammered out, and this creates ambiguity on how the lands will be developed.

Also, a third application to build town houses on the BCBC lands across the highway from Alta Vista will not go forward to the public open house, following a recommendation by municipal staff.

Both staff and councillors commented that when the Legacy Land Agreement was signed in May 2007, they understood all the 458 bed units granted to the First Nations would be built on the Alpine North property above Rainbow.

Looking through the agreement now, councillors had trouble zeroing in on the exact passage that states the bed units cannot go on the BCBC site.

“If you look further into the agreement, there is no clarity where exactly the bed units being handed over were to be assigned, although clearly the intention was always Alpine North,” said Councillor Gord McKeever.

The mayor said even though the other two proposals will go before an open house, council should seek clarity on the agreement.

He added: “I am somewhat taken aback to see this presentation here, despite numerous conversations that have occurred between staff and the First Nations, including personal conversations, that we had no interest in developing residential types of developments on the BCBC lands.”

Of the three First Nation applications, the Alpine North proposal is the most clearly defined, explained housing planner for the municipality Guy Patterson.

Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations would like to build 45 detached dwellings and 20 to 30 townhouses on the 32-acre parcel, located above the new Rainbow subdivison.

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