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New Callaghan adventure lodge under fire

Proposal calls into question long term planning for the valley

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His reaction to the latest proposal is: “That’s big.”

But he doesn’t think it will impact his business.

What is impacting his business, he said, is the uncertainty of the future of the Callaghan. It’s one of the reasons the partners in Callaghan Country have listed the company for sale at $5.9 million.

In the heart of this wilderness is the Olympic Nordic venue, which has changed the landscape considerably.

“It’s kind of like David and Goliath right now,” said Sills. “We’ve got this publicly funded monster next to us. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve been really helpful to us and they’re trying to accommodate us but at the end of the day, they can build a 10,000 square foot day lodge with all the amenities and staff it and I’ve got to compete against that.”

Another factor playing a major role in the future of the Callaghan is First Nations interests.

Earlier this year the province approved a submission from Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations to build an 18-hole golf course in the valley.

Whistler council around that time rejected any notion by the two nations to build housing in the area, stating at the time that it was not consistent with its long-term plan.

The First Nations withdrew that part of their application.

But the golf course proposal, in addition to the Blackcomb Snowmobile proposal, shows the interest in the area, which lies just on Whistler’s southern boundary.

The SLRD’s director of planning and development, Steven Olmstead, confirmed staff has sent a response to the provincial government with similar comments to Whistler’s.

The lodge is a significant rezoning proposal for the SLRD.

“We’d be wanting to evaluate and consider something like that in the context of some kind of planning framework for the Callaghan, not just an ad hoc arrangement,” said Olmstead.

He pointed to an earlier SLRD decision surrounding the Nordic centre where the regional district pulled all commercial development from the proposal that was not associated with the Olympic venue. Among other things, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games was proposing an RV/campground, tubing park and an overnight lodge to go along with the venue.