An area of land just north of Nesters could see some major changes in the near future, depending on the results of an upcoming open house.
Owners of a triangle-shaped piece of property north of the village on the west side of Highway 99, between the B.C. Hydro substation and the CP Rail line, are looking to develop the land into a light industrial space.
Long-time Whistler residents Steve Bayly and Nigel Woods are proposing to dock several “back of house” facilities in the 65,000 square metre space, including a new home for Whistler Transit, Woods’s Coastal Mountain Excavations company and a yard for the company with the highway maintenance contract. The two have offered to sell the municipality four acres at below market value for use as the transit facility.
Other potential uses for the site include a taxi maintenance and storage facility, washing facility for automobiles, temporary facilities for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, recycling depot, and impound yard.
The property is located about two kilometers north of the village, across the highway from the Mons area. Three high-tension power transmission lines cross the property and the land is currently zoned as a single home estate.
Bayly and Woods said the rezoning would not cost taxpayers a penny and would be hidden from the highway by a 20-metre vegetation buffer. It would also provide Valley Trail connections.
Five members of council supported moving the application to an open house to gather public feedback. However, Mayor Ken Melamed and Councilor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden were concerned about putting industrial companies in the Mons area and voiced their opposition, calling it “ad hoc zoning.”
“Planning has always been a hallmark of our success. People always say let the market decide. We’ve always taken a vastly different approach and went forward with community development, and then let the market adapt,” said Wilhelm-Morden, adding that developing in the Mons area would contradict this.
Wilhelm-Morden also added that the Official Community Plan (OCP), drafted in 1993, spells out that Function Junction is the only area in town meant for industry. The OCP says if more land is needed for industrial uses, it should be south of the municipality, near Function Junction.
The 14-year-old community plan is outdated but will not be reviewed until after the 2010 Olympics since municipal staff do not have the time to review it.
However Melamed said a master planning exercise should be done before a decision on industrial zoning in the middle of the Whistler Valley is made.
Following the public open house the project may be reassessed. It will then likely go to council for first consideration of rezoning bylaws. If it receives first and second reading the project will then be the subject of a public hearing.