The first phase of industrial development is set to get underway at Nesters Crossing after a pair of Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) council approvals on June 7.
The first buildings to be built in the new development — located at the north end of Nesters Road north of Whistler Village — will belong to Coastal Mountain Excavations (CME), Whistler Connection and Alpine Works Ltd.
Matt Woods — new president of CME — said the company is excited to make the move out of Function Junction.
"With Function being a lot more moms and strollers than construction guys (thanks to) what's gone on across the street (in Cheakamus Crossing) over the last 10 years, we don't really belong (in Function) anymore," Woods said, noting that CME's big, low-bed trucks hauling 35-tonne excavators have looked increasingly out of place amongst all the foot traffic.
"I think everybody will be happy to see us gone out of here, and no one will be happier than me to have a nice, efficient facility to run out of."
The proposed CME building will cover 872 square metres of floor area over two floors and contain office and shop space, as well as drive-through vehicle bays.
The maximum buildout of the entire site is about 20,000 square metres.
The parcels were originally owned by Woods' father Nigel and Steve Bayly, though some have now been sold to other tenants.
"It's not very romantic," Bayly said, of what's in store for the area. "It's back-of-house infrastructure... for buses and snow plows and storage for Whistler businesses and landscapers and that kind of stuff."
Development of the land has taken nine years, including a number of open houses and decisions from four different councils.
Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden voted against the original rezoning as a councillor when it first came to council nine years ago — and later spoke against it at an open house as a private citizen — but called that "water under the bridge" after the June 7 meeting.
"I thought it didn't make a lot of sense to build a new industrial park beside an already existing industrial park when there's capacity issues, but I lost that argument," the mayor said, adding that the expansion speaks to Whistler's recent success.
"Like everything else that we're seeing in Whistler, we're just in a real era of economic buoyancy, and we can see it in what's happening in our built environment and of course with our guests and so on," she said.
As part of the deal, the developers agreed to split the cost of building a Valley Trail connection between Cypress Place and Nesters Crossing with the RMOW.
The original plan was to build an overpass above the CN Rail line, but building one high enough to satisfy CN Rail requirements would have proved too costly, Bayly said.
"The actual span wasn't much more money, but the approaches on either side became much longer and more expensive," he said.
Rather than go over the tracks, the developers decided to engineer an underpass, "which saved both us and the municipality quite a lot of money," Bayly added.
The RMOW — responsible for the costs of the trail connection north of the railroad — paid $718,697 towards the project.
The underpass is now installed and will be open to the public later this summer.
"I just think it's great that the tunnel is finally being constructed and the Valley Trail at that end of the valley will be finished," Wilhelm-Morden said. "I think it's terrific."