Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden vehemently opposes a proposal to build a second industrial park in the centre of Whistler, near Nesters Square.
“I have to say in all my years sitting on council, I have never seen a council with such, in all due respect, undue haste on such a significant planning decision,” the livid councilor said Tuesday.
“With a mere stroke of the pen four or five people are now deciding that we don’t need community consultation, that we are going to create a new industrial park in the middle of the valley.”
At issue is the 14-year-old official community plan that spells out Function Junction as the only area in town meant for industry. The OCP also says if a second industrial park is needed, it should also be located south of the municipality.
“We ought to have the respect for our community that if we propose a second industrial park, we will go out and make the necessary consultations,” said Wilhelm-Morden.
“Yes, we do amend our OCP from time to time, but when we are talking about something as significant as a second industrial park… the community should be consulted on that.”
She added: “This council has prided itself on being consultative. I am shocked.”
Despite her concerns, bylaws to allow industrial uses on property across the highway from Mons received first and second reading at Tuesday’s council meeting, amid palpable tension between Wilhelm-Morden and Councillor Eckhard Zeidler.
Ziedler spoke to the need to locate the transit hub in a more centralized location than is currently offered at Function Junction, as well as the need to house more highway safety equipment in town.
“I was extremely impressed by the people who had written comments at the open house,” he added.
“I would like to see it go a step further and then we can gather that kind of input from the broader community. If this place fills with residents of Nicklaus North, Alpine or Rainbow who are screaming against this proposal, I think we’ll probably take that into consideration.
“But what I have seen so far, I think, has been quite positive and encouraging.”
Councillor Bob Lorriman also brought up the point that since the athletes’ village is being built south of Whistler, a dramatic change has already happened to the official community plan.
Mayor Ken Melamed, who was not present during Tuesday’s council meeting, has also been adamantly against the Mons-area proposal in the past.
The proposed area sits on a triangle shaped property just north of the municipal works yard on the west side of Highway 99, between the B.C. Hydro substation and the railroad tracks.
In addition to a new home for Whistler’s bus fleet, some of the industrial uses being proposed include a fuel service station, motor vehicle maintenance and storage facility, and waste and recycling depot for household garbage. The site is currently zoned for a residential single estate.
Thirty-one people attended an earlier open house for the proposal, with two-thirds expressing their enthusiasm. Many of the written comments submitted included phrases like, “This project makes good sense” and “This is a good use of the land.”