We might have anticipated some degree of favourable spin from the RMOW and developer on their side of the story of what went wrong in the Nita Lake legal case. But, I think they are being disingenuous and misleading in trying to persuade us their loss was merely due to a technicality over an error in base density and that council did nothing wrong in processing this development application.
The judge concluded the Nita Lake case was a matter of public importance. If the bylaw could have been struck down due to a mix up on base density, that judgment could have been very simply rendered. But that is not what happened. The judge, of course, noted this defect but, then went on to reach a landmark decision by ruling that land use had been sold in return for community amenities. She said: "In my view, this bylaw, though purporting to deal with density, clearly allows the Developers to obtain additional uses by providing amenities to the municipality. Such a transaction is not permitted by the LGA. The bylaw is therefore illegal." The judge also stated that a municipality "must act within the scope of the empowering legislation" clearly inferring it had not.
The reason the RMOW and developer ran into this problem is because the three acre site on Nita Lake was (and still is) zoned residential. To change the land use to allow a hotel and train station was going to be impossible without selling land use zoning given the previous failed attempt at introducing Bylaw 1627. That is because they had no other way but to sell land use zoning to make the development work and receive the community benefits. That is what the LGA seeks to prevent.
I believe the judgment is far from a technicality. It draws an important line in the sand by allowing a municipality to bargain with developers for density increases but not land use change. Land use is too valuable to be sold.
This is an important principle if we are going to preserve our precious Whistler environment. Permitting local governments to "sell land use" enables elected officials to abdicate their responsibility in making proper land use decisions, and prevents them from approaching land use issues with open and unfettered minds. Otherwise anyone can "buy" any land use, no matter the impact on our environment.
In addition, as part of the explanation of what went wrong, we are now being told the cost of the amenities is not $20 million, but only $2 million. The figure of $20 million was the amount the developer admitted as the costs in court proceedings. The developer has now suggested a new, substantially lesser, amount in the court of public opinion. Can anyone seriously buy 25 acres of land and construct so much employee housing in Whistler for only $2 million? I advocate much more transparency in future public hearings about the proper cost of community amenities related to development approvals.
In light of the court ruling, the extensive community donations and the need for the developer to build a larger hotel to recoup these costs, I see no reason for controversy over my consistently alternative solutions for the way forward. I have always said the plans for the hotel should either be scaled back to what would have been acceptable to the community, or abandoned altogether. Either solution seems morally right.
Re: The recent lawsuit and court ruling that has shut down the Nita Lake Lodge project again
The Lamberts state that they are looking out for Whistler's best interests. "There is enough development in Whistler," says Lambert from his second home in Australia while his $10 million house sits empty on Nita Lake. The Lamberts argument and subsequent legal action is that the hotel is too big. Since the site preparation began on the hotel site I have been subjected to a view of the Lamberts property that I can't wait to be covered by up an architecturally pleasing and landscaped building. Anyone who has walked around Nita Lake knows what I am talking about.
I am fully supportive of people's legal rights and on that front the Lamberts have won for now. The bottom line on their position is about their view. If they owned anywhere else in Whistler we would not even know their names in this forum. In the Whistler court of popular opinion I believe the Lamberts have lost. This is not a project that was rammed through by a greedy council. This project has evolved and changed because the first proposal of a medical clinic did not sit well with the community.
The democratic process is alive and well in Whistler. We elected a group of people to listen to the community and uphold our values. A majority of the Whistler community found that this project struck the right balance of meeting the communitys needs and a hotel project. There is no such thing as a perfect development. The developers of the Nita Lake Lodge have gone above and beyond to meet with and satisfy the communitys wishes with regard to this complex project.
The Lamberts and their supporters are trying to tell us they represent what Whistler wants and needs. All they have really done is bleed millions of dollars from the community. It is time for the silent majority in Whistler to stand up and support our council. After all, council listened to the community and acted in good faith when they approved this project.
It is healthy to have other developers participate in the building of Whistler. It is common knowledge that developers are subjected to very onerous demands by our council and RMOW staff. These demands work to protect and maintain quality development in our community. What developer in their right mind is going to go through what the Nita Lake Lodge Corporation has been subjected to in the future building of our resort community?
Perhaps the government in Victoria should amend the Local Government Act to reflect the needs of this "cutting edge" resort municipality. This little town is a world leader in resort evolution. It is very apparent that the Local Government Act is not meeting the needs of Whistler in this case.
As well as this being a very well thought out development the community should not miss out on the many amenities included. Amending the Local Government Act would give credit where credit is due; to our hardworking, informed, honest council members and a very diligent and talented municipal staff that work in the best interest of Whistler. The Local Government Act needs to "catch up with the times".
Finally, I would like to believe the Lamberts are well intentioned people. Please put that energy into assisting all of us in building this special place. Supporting the "clean-up" of Creekside with a much overdue quality redevelopment would be a great start.
Rant, rant, rant. To read many of your letters, the municipal hall exists solely to underwrite a cabal of evil town planners that want to turn Whistler into a living hell. Well, kids, I have news for you: the barn door is open, the horse is on the run and has been for years, and the sudden blossoming of self-serving anti-development by many who had been able to do what they wanted back when it suited them is just plain ridiculous.
Take a look around. This resort is phenomenal. Maybe the Muni made some zoning decisions you dont agree with, but overall they do a superlative job. The site is well done, the mountain is fabulous, the town is clean and functional, and the buses run on time (most of the time). If the excellent and soon-to-be green public transport is running behind schedule, it is because of too much snow nice problem to have. The quantity and quality of municipally supported accessible housing is unparalleled in any North American resort, probably the world. Want to live in a comparable place, say Vail? Forget it. Youll have to drive an hour down the highway even for Whistler prices on rent and guess what? No services, no cute stores, and Whistler prices in U.S. dollars, even after the commute from hell.
Get a grip, folks. The Muni is not the devil. Intrawest is not the devil. Lets face it, there are lots of resorts with crappy amenities, dying or industrial towns, and average skiing out there. They are praying to get anyone to build anything, let alone the type of development we have here. But the cost of living is low (if you can get a job), the skiing will be great, that is if they ever develop it (but you can hike). Oh yeah, and the housing is affordable .
Whistler, B.C./Mont-Tremblant, Québec
Re: "New business plan tackles challenging tourism environment, by Alison Taylor, Pique March 26 th , 2004
The dollar-driven mission of Tourism Whistler plans to drop "two traditional festivals," Oktoberfest and the Jazz and Blues Festival, while on the other hand, the word "sustainability" is on everyone's breath. If these festivals did not incur losses, they still provided jobs, entertained the locals as well as visitors, and upheld tradition and culture-based entertainment. What a pity to erase them in favour of events "to drive room nights." This is obviously important and most events must keep this is the forefront given the capacity of Whistler, but surely some room must be left in the calendar for tradition. Does this not chop at the heart of the Whistler community, and have an alienating effect? An exclusively dollar-driven mission may very well endanger that very sustainability.
Another buzz word is "balance," we seem too often to lack it.
Hydrogen the saviour?
Congratulations for the work for the Hydrogen Highway! It is great to see more and more initiatives popping up all over town, such as the Speaker Series, Green Houses, and now the Hydrogen Highway.
Fuel cells and hydrogen are perhaps a very important step towards a more sustainable community and society. One hopes, however, that the amazing feats demonstrated in hydrogen fuel cells is able carry over to the other external costs borne on society by private automobile traffic; noise, accidents, land use for roads, salt, construction, traffic jams, material use, and reduction of community capital. For if the push for fuel cells doesnt accompany other changes, we may end up witnessing increases in those other costs well into the future. Why?
Its called the "rebound effect" and it comes in many forms. One example of the rebound effect results from a situation where an individual or a business saves money from energy efficient light bulbs. Of course, reducing energy use from using the light bulbs saves energy and dollars, but it allows that money to be spent on something else. An economist would say this is a good thing; you can spend to increase your utility and wellbeing. This is true, however the question is, Where does that money go after? Is the money spent on further increasing the efficiency of houses or businesses or is it spent on gasoline for a snowmobile, or in the case of a potential business promoting more unsustainable consumption? You can see, where you spend that savings from using less energy makes a difference.
Another example of the rebound effect relates more to the fuel cell. Picture this situation for a moment: we are all now happy that we can one day be guilt free from the air pollution caused by using our private cars. As a result how do we as a community or individual respond? Do we further promote more car use, by building more highways, parking lots, and ultimately creating more traffic jams, noise and accidents? Or do we continue to implement Whistlers Transportation Plan, reduce car traffic around the village and on the highway while continuing to push for improved rail?
You can see, our individual or institutional response as a result of financial savings or improvements in environmental impact has a large impact on how the ultimate effect changes.
So, welcome to the rebound effect, a phenomena that turns up in our society as a result of our dominant mindsets, goals and structure. One attempt at combating the rebound effect at the personal or company level is to invest savings, as a result of more efficient appliances, in other satisfying activities that continue to bring less harm to the environment and society.
The rebound effect, acting out against sustainability, will be challenging our sustainability efforts until additional satisfaction, happiness, profit, utility or whatever we are all seeking is derived via reducing impacts on the environment and others in society.
The purpose of this letter isn't to dampen spirits. My intent is to raise awareness of something to look out for as individuals and as a community while we plan, create and move towards our future Whistler.
I have noticed articles recently in the press which indicate substantial likelihood of landslides in Whistler Village (Fitzsimmons Creek) and along Highway 99. Then there is the infamous Order-In-Council which declared the risk of landslide to be so high that it is unsafe to stop your car within the danger zone hence all the no stopping signs. The risk is considered so great that, during the flooding last fall, traffic was stopped several kilometres away from the repair area. This caused longer delays for traffic.
While these potential slides would not affect the Olympic venues themselves any slide would affect venue access (or accommodation) by spectators with pre-sold and expensive tickets.
What would have happened during voting last July had the IOC delegates been made aware that the risk was considered serious but the bid book said that the risk was "extremely low"?
How much press would this moral turpitude have created in Salzburg and Pyeongchang? Had this been revealed would there be a bid surplus?
It's official: dogs are no longer allowed on the Whistler Golf Course. I appreciate the politeness of the course employees with respect to this new issue, and ask that you continue to be courteous and understanding in the coming weeks before you open. You operate upon one of the only pieces of grass between two popular, family-oriented subdivisions.
There are those of us who believe in treading lightly while enjoying one of life's simple pleasures. Please don't misinterpret any non-compliance on our part as being disrespectful or ignornant. Please don't fine us, arrest us or have us beaten. A 3-wood does more damage to your turf than my dog ever will.
Perhaps if more dog owners are responsible and respectful of the area, we will continue to be permitted to enjoy this green space as we always have.
No laws are needed where there is respect.
On behalf of the Canadian Cancer Society, wed like to thank all of the businesses, volunteers and supporters of the Daffodil Days fundraising campaign. The weekend of March 27-28th we sold over 10,000 daffodils throughout Whistler people were so generous that we sold out of flowers early Sunday afternoon! Congratulations on raising $6,000! Half of the funds will support cancer research, and the other half will stay in the community to assist local cancer patients and their families. Its really great to be part of such a giving, generous community.
A loud cheer goes to our volunteers who helped brighten up Whistler with bouquets of yellow: Ken Roberts, Shelley Neilly, Shannon Wild, Brenda Quance, Mona Patel, Alex Cripps and family, Craig Berry, Kristen Robinson, Craig and Rae McDonald, Maureen Daschuk, Devon Brusse, Shannon Byrne, Don & Kathy MacAlister, Gay Clure, Elaine Patterson, Lisa Winter, Valerie Haines, Anne Spence, Lara Bozabalian, Stella Harvey, Lisa Farnes, Debbie Yates, Brenda Norrie, Lisa Davis, Angela Moore & Matt, Joe Filler and Cheryl Massey.
A special thanks is due to Heather Clifford, Shelley Campbell and those fun-loving realtors from Whistler Real Estate. They "petaled" so many flowers at Marketplace on Saturday that we almost didnt have any left for Sunday! What a great, generous group of people!
A hearty thank you also goes to our local grocery store owners, who encouraged us to set up outside their stores; including Bruce at Nesters, Jim at Marketplace IGA, Rob at The Grocery Store and Gerry at the Creekside Market.
Many businesses wholeheartedly embraced the spirit of the campaign by purchasing large quantities for their offices and helping with distribution, including: Coast Mountain Photography, Intrawest, Mountain Paint supply, Mountainside Lodge, Resort Quest Whistler, Whiski Jack Resorts Ltd, Whistler Health Care Centre, Whistler Irrigation Services Ltd., Whistlers Foto Source, The Love Nest, Destination Planners, Lodging Ovations, Whistler Chiropractor, Creekside Market, Resort TV, Paradata, TD Canada Trust & Royal Bank. Thank you too Bob Andrea and Catherine Guerin at the RMOW.
May we all be blessed with daffodils and bright sunshine everyday!
Thank you Whistler!
Jacki Bissillion &
Rebecca Wood Barrett,
Resort TV Network
on Behalf of the Canadian Cancer Society
The Fire & Ice Show wish to commend Ralph Forsyth for an excellent show every Sunday. To find such entertaining jumpers and fire twirlers and to co-ordinate all the behind-the-scenes people requires a special talent.
Great fireworks too, Ralph!
A special thanks also to our wonderful sponsors.
For the Mountain Hosts