Whistler's updated Official Community Plan (OCP) is one step closer to being finalized.
Though the OCP bylaw received first reading at the Oct. 2 council meeting, it wasn't a unanimous vote—Councillor Sue Maxwell moved to defer the reading, allowing the matter to be decided by the next council following the Oct. 20 election.
Without a seconder, Maxwell's motion didn't go to a vote.
Maxwell, who is not seeking re-election, explained her reasoning before ultimately voting against.
"I don't feel that the vision is strong enough, and there is no longer a standalone document. Key aspects of sustainability like the global impact, the global footprint, have been lost. It's narrowed its focus to be just very much about our own backyard," Maxwell said.
Further, the document itself is imbalanced—areas that have associated committees and plans, like recreation with the Recreation and Leisure Advisory Committee, are "strong chapters," Maxwell said, while others, like climate or water or zero waste, are weaker.
"These are often the areas where the indicators show problems, and this will only exacerbate this," she said.
Further still, feedback from focus groups and committees has not necessarily been implemented in every case, and some specific policies need to be addressed, like the removal of a policy against incineration, Maxwell said.
"I think this document's a really good beginning, but I hope the next council will really go through it with an eye to making changes that reflect the feedback," she said.
"We really need to make sure that the next council has the opportunity to make changes, so I will not be supporting this."
But Maxwell was alone in her opposition.
"I hear your frustration, but I'd just like to say that I was in the room when we all agreed, including yourself, that the Whistler2020 would be incorporated into the new OCP ... you were part of that process, and you agreed to the process," Coun. John Grills said to Maxwell. "It's not perfect in your mind, it's not perfect maybe in anybody's mind, but it's a document that I feel strongly that we should get through this process."
Coun. Jack Crompton noted it is only first reading, with a public hearing to follow.
"There's a significant public process ahead of us, so of course there's opportunities for changes to be made if the future council thinks they are warranted," Crompton said. "I think this process has been incredibly involved. We have had broad-based community engagement. I strongly feel we've worked hard to understand what the public's saying, and I think we're committed to continuing to listen, so this makes sense that it moves forward in my view."
The OCP itself is a beast of a document, stretching hundreds of pages and covering all topics related to Whistler: First Nations reconciliation, land-use planning, growth management, economic viability, the natural environment and more.
"Importantly, this updated OCP also includes an update of our community vision (replacing) Whistler2020, which was adopted almost 14 years ago now back in 2004, and it is incorporated directly within the updated OCP," said director of planning Mike Kirkegaard.
Whistler's new vision statement is more streamlined than in the past: "Our community thrives, nature is protected and guests are inspired." Working from that, the vision includes 20 more detailed and specific characteristics under four headings: sense of place, the natural environment, community, and tourism-based economy.
The new document contains many changes from the 1993 and 2013 versions, Kirkegaard said, including (but not limited to): a new section on sense of community, extensive updates to local First Nations content (including histories provided by the Lil'wat and Squamish Nations), incorporating initiatives from the Mayor's Task Force on Resident Housing, updated development permit guidelines and new development permit area designations for wildfire and aquifer protection.
"But although there are significant changes, if you look at it, we're really not changing the fundamental nature of Whistler," Kirkegaard said. "We're not departing from the vision of Whistler as a destination resort community that reinforces what makes Whistler a special place to live and to visit, our natural environment, etc., and it guides Whistler's ongoing evolution."
Find the full document at www.whistler.ca/ocp.
Stay tuned to Pique in the coming weeks for more analysis and reaction to Whistler's updated OCP.