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Land offered for Callaghan golf course

First Nations say timeline for development is post-2010 Games

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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 legacy lands.

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 things.”

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 lodge.

That lodge is now off the table and council supports a golf course there.

“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,” said Melamed.

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.

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