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Nita Lake Lodge proposal to go to public hearing

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In recent years Intrawest has been revamping the Creekside area with high-end restaurants and hotel/timeshares like First Tracks. Next on the list is the construction of a multi-level parking lot and Franz’s Trail with its commercial business.

Melamed said Intrawest promised to protect the heart and soul of Whistler’s first community and original ski base as it moved along with its developments.

"That didn’t happen," he said.

"The heart and soul has evaporated from Creekside."

He sees the Nita Lake Lodge project in much the same light.

"I’ve been opposed to this since I first saw it two and a half years ago and there’s been nothing that’s come forward to make me change my mind.

"I represent a constituency that feels Whistler is already developed."

He was the lone opposing voice on the five-member council. The four remaining councillors voted on moving the project to the next level, giving first and second readings to the necessary bylaws and scheduling a public hearing.

Councillor Kristi Wells said in the 10 years that she’s sat on council she’s never seen so much community input in a project, adding that she looks forward to hearing comments from community members at the public hearing.

The extensive public consultation process has changed the Nita Lake Lodge development substantially from the initial concept, as it adapted to the concerns of the local community.

"That’s what I call responsible development," said Haibeck.

Among the community benefits are the preservation of the 25 acres of wetland and the development of 221 employee beds on two sites. These employee beds are seven times more employee housing than is required for the development itself.

Haibeck is also offering a community cash contribution.

Over half a million dollars is slated for a new X-ray machine at the Whistler Health Care Centre and another half a million dollars will go the Community Foundation of Whistler to set up a new community health endowment fund.

The project is also connected to a new privately owned rail scheme, designed to revive passenger rail travel to Whistler with a tourist train.

With a revamped train station beside the lodge Whistler Rail Tours, which is working hand-in-hand with the lodge development, is projecting more than 150,000 annual cruise ship visitors to Whistler who wouldn’t come up here otherwise. This is turn would spin off almost half a billion dollars into the Whistler economy by 2010, according to an economic study.

This was a big push for Councillor Nick Davies in supporting the project.