Whistler has sealed the deal on another Olympic legacy, securing 300 acres of Crown land for employee housing.
Three sites have been chosen as the community land bank, one of Whistler’s most significant Olympic legacies. As per the deal with the province, the land was transferred to Whistler with one major restriction – it must be used for employee housing.
The bulk of the land bank is located in the Lower Cheakamus, site of the 2010 Olympic athletes’ village. This area comprises more than 233 acres (or 124 hectares).
In order to make up for funding shortfalls in the athletes’ village business plan, however, the province has allowed Whistler to build some market housing on that site in addition to the 250 units of employee housing.
The village business plan states:
"The proforma includes development and sale of 10 per cent of the project as market lots and residential units for market sale; if necessary for project viability, the percentage of market housing could be increased to generate further revenue."
Two more sites make up the balance of the land bank – almost 30 acres (11.56 hectares) at Kadenwood and half of the land known as Alpine North, situated above the Rainbow lands.
The Alpine North land stretches over 78 acres (31.58 hectares). The RMOW will get half and a deal is in the works that could see First Nations get the other half. Information Officer Diana Waltmann explained the municipality would be "tenants in common" with First Nations.
Squamish Nation Chief Gibby Jacob was reticent to speak about the First Nations’ 300-acre land bank legacy because it is still under negotiation with the province. This is part of the legacy lands awarded to Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation during Olympic negotiations.
The deal has not been signed yet.
"All I can say is we’re working on trying to button up all the lands and we’re pretty close to agreement," said Jacob.
"Nothing’s done until it’s done."
Jacob would not comment on any specific sites this week but it is known First Nations have identified not only the Alpine North land but also the BCBC lands (the Capilano/Mainroad Works Yard), opposite Alta Vista as part of their legacy lands.
While Whistler’s land is restricted, for the most part, to employee housing, First Nations land has no such restrictions. This will allow them to develop the land and direct the profits back into their communities.
"(The only requirements are) that we have to be in line with the municipal government or the regional government rules and regulations," said Jacob.
Whistler’s land bank agreement was signed in the spring but officials had hoped to announce the news at an official ceremony to mark the occasion.