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Nita Lake employee housing townhouses on the way

Council debate green building standards which have yet to be formally adopted



Whether they have dual flush toilets or not, the Nita Lake Lodge employee townhouses should be ready for occupancy in just over a year.

Nita Lake Lodge President John Haibeck said they are expecting to start construction on the 44 employee housing units in late April.

They should be ready for occupancy by spring 2006.

But it's still not clear what green building standards will be applied to the project.

At Monday's council meeting Acting Mayor Ken Melamed insisted high efficiency appliances, dual flush toilets, and compact fluorescent light fixtures be included as part of the development permit approval.

But other councillors took exception to those demands.

Councillor Kristi Wells said the development permit stage is about the form and character of the building, not about the type of toilets.

She also pointed out that the Nita Lake Lodge company developed a green building guidebook for the community as part of their comprehensive development project. Those standards are to be used in the construction of the 14 single family homes, which will lie just down the road from the employee housing townhouses.

Wells said the Nita Lake Lodge has already raised the bar by developing "Whistler Green."

"I don’t feel comfortable saying ‘hey, raise it even more’," she added.

Wells also pointed out that the green building standards have yet to be officially adopted by council.

The Whistler Green guidelines were handed to the municipality about a year ago. Staff has yet to bring them before council for official approval and adoption because they were hoping to test them out in the single family home development in the Nita Lake project.

"Unfortunately, that's been a little slower out of the blocks that we had hoped," said Bob MacPherson, general manager of planning and development.

The Nita Lake Lodge project, which includes employee housing, single family homes and a boutique lodge, was thrown off its construction schedule after the development was challenged in the courts. That legal battle took several months before it was resolved.

But Haibeck said construction is now full-steam ahead.

The employee townhouse site is fully serviced with sewer and water hook-up. The site servicing for the employee apartment units on Alta Lake Road is not complete but Haibeck assures those units will be delivered by the spring 2006 just the same as the townhouses.

The Nita Lake Lodge is scheduled to open on May 1, 2006.

The site of the 14-single family homes is about 80 per cent serviced and it just awaiting the asphalt paving. It is this site which it set to be the test case for the Whistler Green standards.

Whistler Green is intended to be a set of green building principles which everyone in Whistler could follow. It was developed in concert with a wide range of community stakeholders including the Whistler Homebuilders Association.

It was designed to take components of LEED, which has a commercial and industrial focus, and R2000, which has an energy focus, and meld them together into one comprehensive set of standards.

The Whistler Green program is divided into seven subject groups, listing both required and voluntary green criteria. The categories for achieving a green home are: site and landscape, energy, water, indoor environment, materials, waste and owner education.

MacPherson said he would bring Whistler Green forward to council at the first meeting in May.

In the meantime, the Nita Lake development will forge ahead.

Nine units out of the 44 townhouses will go to the Whistler Housing Authority. The remaining units are to be used by employees of the Nita Lake Lodge, which is under construction in Creekside.