By Alison Taylor
Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations have submitted plans to build a golf course with residential housing in the Callaghan Valley.
The application was forwarded to the provincial government by Vanwest Forestry Ltd. on behalf of Squamish and Lil’wat Nations and advertised in the local newspapers for two weeks over the holiday season.
Located 2.5 kilometres up the Callaghan Forest Service Road, the proposal calls for an 18-hole course that would lie within Whistler’s municipal boundaries and, as such, is subject to approval by the Whistler council.
A detailed 12-page plan was posted on a government website but days after enquiries by Pique Newsmagazine it was removed. (see sidebar)
It is not clear at this point how many residential units are proposed as part of the project or whether they would be located within the municipal boundaries, but according to the plan:
“Detailed studies will be undertaken to identify an adequate supply of potable water and means of sewage disposal to accommodate the planned residential component in accordance with current standards.”
Squamish Nation Chief Bill Williams said this week that they are investigating their options to gauge interest and feedback.
“In every golf course there are some homes that are attached in and around for people who want to live around a golf course and we’re seeing what interest there is with that,” said Williams.
Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed was taken aback upon hearing that the application included residential development.
He said council was aware of First Nations’ plans to pursue a golf course in the Callaghan but housing was not consistent with Whistler’s development as outlined in its long-term plan, Whistler2020.
“A golf course, we think, is consistent with our land use and strategic planning,” said the mayor.
“Council does not envisage, nor did the Whistler community, any residential development in the Callaghan.”
Melamed is referring to the in-depth community consultation several years ago that ultimately paved the way for the athletes’ village for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games currently being built next to the Cheakamus River.
The Callaghan, located south of Whistler in what Squamish and Lil’wat Nations claim is traditional shared territory, was considered a prime location for the athletes’ village but the community overwhelmingly rejected that proposal, picking a site within Whistler’s existing developed area.
“(First Nations are) free to make an application like any other developer but they should know what our policies are and what our past and current positions are,” said Melamed.