News » Whistler

Golf course application ‘premature’

Council disappointed with First Nations Callaghan plans



By Alison Taylor

Lead negotiator for the Lil’wat Nation, Lyle Leo, said the application to build golf course/residential development in the Callaghan Valley was premature and inaccurate.

He was just as surprised to see the application on Whistler council’s agenda as council itself was, blaming the mistake on a glitch in the process at the provincial Integrated Land Management Bureau.

“It’s not accurate and it isn’t aligned with the collaborative approach that we’ve been taking with the Whistler administration,” said Leo this week.

He hopes the premature application will not hurt a growing partnership with the resort municipality.

“The partnership is working,” said Leo. “There’s a lot we are undertaking which means there’s a lot of information that can be misinterpreted and sometimes go down the wrong path and we have to back up and do some damage control and ensure that we strengthen our partnership rather than create dissension.”

Mayor Ken Melamed said that was good news.

“If nothing else it confirms to First Nations our feelings about the Callaghan,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to working with them when they re-apply because we know they have an interest in the Callaghan and they understand that there’s opportunity in Whistler and we’re committed to working with them.”

Council was unaware of this mistake at Monday’s council meeting however, as it considered the application as per a request for comment from the provincial ILMB.

Its feedback was clear — building a residential development beside a golf course in the Callaghan Valley is not consistent with the resort municipality’s growth strategies or its vision in the Whistler2020 plan.

They were unanimous in their opposition to the plans.

“It is a little disappointing that this application has been made by the First Nations,” said Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, adding that she had hoped their relationship with neighbouring First Nations was a little stronger.

Her colleague, Councillor Gordon McKeever, echoed that disappointment.

“We rejected (the Callaghan) as an opportunity for resident housing,” he said. “The thought of creating a significant market housing subdivision… is something I can’t support.”

Councillor Eckhard Zeidler, who has been active in wilderness conservation initiatives in the areas surrounding Whistler, removed himself from the discussion due to a conflict of interest.

The remaining councillors were relatively quiet on the issue.

The 12-page joint application by Squamish and Lil’wat Nations, which was advertised in newspapers over the holidays, details an 18-hole golf course but there is scant information on the residential component of the project.