By Alison Taylor
Council may be enthused about the new plans for Lakeside Park but the nearby residents aren’t as excited.
“It’s going to be an absolutely wonderful, wonderful park,” said Councillor Eckhard Zeidler, after a presentation on the two options for the park at Monday’s council meeting.
The next day resident Linda Seifred, who was not at the meeting, said she is frustrated her concerns about allowing commercial boat activities to continue at the park appear to be falling on deaf ears.
“It’s like a foregone conclusion,” said the roughly 20-year Alta Vista resident who has battled issues with commercial operators for several years.
Lakeside Park is set to get a facelift next year and council is planning to rezone the park from residential zoning to park zoning. It will allow commercial boat activities to continue.
“Whistler is going in the direction of tourism and it’s going away from the sustainability of neighbourhoods,” added Seifred.
Mayor Ken Melamed took exception to the suggestion at the meeting from another Alta Vista resident, Chris Manuel, who complained the neighbours’ concerns were not being heard.
There have been two open houses on the issue, he pointed out.
“You’ve had significant opportunities for input,” said the mayor.
The next time for input will be Tuesday, Jan. 9 at an open house. There the public will be able to review the final two options for the park. Both include commercial operations.
The options are very similar. They each include an improved and expanded child play area as well as new picnic, lawn, beach and dock areas. There is, however, one key difference — the location of the concession and public washrooms.
In the first design those will be located in the existing house at the park. The location of that home is immediately adjacent to the neighbourhood residents.
The second design sees the concession and washrooms moved to a different location in the park, further away from neighbouring residents. This option will cost more but staff could not pinpoint the cost when asked by council.
“Hopefully we’ll find the wherewithal to do that,” said Councillor Gordon McKeever, who preferred the second design.
Mayor Ken Melamed said he liked the idea of re-using the house in the first design.
“Given the stress that is on our budget, I’d like to make do with what we can,” he said.
Resident Lawrence Keith lives directly beside the park. The lot with the house was once zoned residential and is now in the process of being zoned for park.
Keith worries about the precedent council is setting by moving forward with the rezoning against the wishes of the neighbours. He points to other parks in town with the same zoning, such as Rainbow and Lost Lake park, that have plenty of buffers from any residential neighbourhoods.
Staff recognizes the concerns from neighbouring residents. Noise, safety and traffic issues will be addressed not only in the design of the park but also in the management protocol of the commercial businesses. The 2007 watercraft concessions license agreements will limit the hours of operation, the number of boats on site, access routes into the site and manage park maintenance, including recycling and garbage.