Employee housing project stymied by council concerns By Andy Stonehouse An employee housing project which could bring 14 new dwelling units to the end of Lorimer Road may require some fundamental changes before satisfying Whistler councillors. Municipal staff have given their own recommendation for a housing project proposed by the Whistler Housing Authority for a site adjacent to Tapley's Farm, the River of Golden Dreams and across the street from the Catholic Church. The housing authority would like to build a tight development of four buildings, including one duplex and three four-plexes. The new properties would contain six one-bedroom units, six two-bedroom units and two three-bedroom units. The entire project would be built, owned and administrated by the Whistler Valley Housing Corporation, the municipal corporation that does business under the name of the Whistler Housing Authority. While the project would increase the inventory of employee housing, Whistler council members said the builders will have to address the concerns raised by neighbours at two public information meetings. More than 50 residents representing 20 to 30 neighbourhood households attended the sessions and told WVHC staff that they had fears about Valley Trail access and safety in the area, as well as the potential for higher vehicle speeds along Lorimer if the project were to be built. Councillor Stephanie Sloan said she wondered what might happen if the number of units planned were reduced, offering more green space as part of the project. Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said she agreed that the present configuration of buildings appeared a little too dense for comfort. Councillor Dave Kirk said neighbours attending the meetings had asked for more green land to be retained as part of the project design, with less space given for parking. Councillor Ken Melamed said cutting down on-property parking space could backfire and lead to residents parking out on Lorimer Road. "There were concerns about the spill-out of parking," he said. "We have to make sure that there's sufficient room inside the project. I do appreciate the attempt to make the properties look like single family homes, however." A possible solution to the parking problem might be found in the fact that parking requirements have been slightly relaxed at other employee housing projects in Brio and on the Benchlands. When a second public meeting was held, neighbours said they were mostly concerned that the buildings be completed with a high quality exterior finish. They also challenged the philosophy of building free-standing employee housing and suggested it might be better provided through auxiliary suites. Members of the municipality's advisory planning commission and municipal staff have stated their support for the project.