By Alison Taylor
The province has offered First Nations a lease to develop an
18-hole golf course on 150 acres in the Callaghan Valley.
The offer, dated April 13, comes as Squamish and Lil’wat
Nations finalize their negotiations with the province for an additional 300
acres of legacy lands, also within the resort municipality.
Of those 300 acres, one-third lies directly beside the golf
course and will be transferred to the Nations as part of their fee simple
It is not clear what the plans are for the land at this time.
Lead negotiator for the Lil’wat Nation Lyle Leo said this week
that work must be done by both nations on an economic strategy for the land
that complies with Whistler’s long-term planning documents.
“It all depends on the atmosphere… (and) the political will
being there to support economic development of any kind in that area but mainly
one that will provide an option for tourism,” said Leo.
Squamish Chief Gibby Jacob reiterated the need to look at
various options for development.
“Some of the things that we’re trying to tie into are the
Nordic centre (for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games) and those kinds of
They are also investigating the economic feasibility of a golf
course at this time too.
Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed reiterated this week that a golf
course in the Callaghan has long been on the books, as well as a 50- to 70-room
That lodge is now off the table and council supports a golf
“We’re still saying that a golf course, we think, is an
appropriate land use in the Callaghan and we will entertain a proposal
depending on the details,” said the mayor.
Council balked at an earlier First Nations proposal that was
submitted to Land and Water B.C. in December because it talked about a
residential development beside the course. They were also concerned about
environmental sensitivities on the golf course land. That application said
construction on the course and the residential units was to begin in 2008.
“What (council) objected to in December was the housing
component and the environmental sensitivity of the lands and lack of review,”
By January a new application had been submitted to the LWBC for
just a golf course. It has no housing proposed in it.
“(First Nations) want to do everything right and they want to
work closely with the RMOW (Resort Municipality of Whistler),” said LWBC Land
Officer Ron Wallace.
The province offered First Nations a 10-year lease on the land
with the option to renew that lease for 30 years or possibly buy the land.
The management plan details a timeline that shows the First
Nations collaboratively planning with the RMOW and a business analysis in the
next two years, with the possibility of taking the golf course application to
Whistler council for a rezoning after the 2010 Games.
In addition to the 100 acres beside the golf course in the
Callaghan, First Nations have also chosen two more parcels in the area.
Two parcels, of roughly 35 acres each, sit at entrance to the valley, just north of the new Nordic Centre access road.