Money talks and bullshit walks, or so the saying goes. But I find it’s not the most accurate expression out there because more often than not I find that it’s money that’s doing all the bullshitting.
Whistler is now battling two unnecessary and short-sighted developments just outside its boundaries, one in the Soo Valley and one at Green River Estates. In both cases the only real driver is the ability to turn a quick buck and the only real attraction is the relative proximity to Whistler and its world class amenities.
This is development we have no control over, and unless we want to see the Sea to Sky corridor transformed into one long, ugly suburb, it’s something we have to fight.
Despite what the developers might say, Whistler will bear the burden of these new neighbourhoods — more cars on the road creating more noise and pollution, more people in the lift lines and at the public beaches, busier parking lots, and more demand for public services like schools, health care, and emergency services. And we will get nothing in return, not even a share of property taxes. Now that’s bullshit.
In the case of the Green River development, Whistler won’t let them hook up to our sewer so they’ve come up with a plan to dump their treated excrement into the Green River, a renewable and valuable resource for three Whistler rafting companies. That’s also bullshit.
Whistler home owners will see the value of their properties erode as the market is glutted with new stock, even though it’s questionable there’s a demand for the stock we already have or that is in the process of being developed. Tourists, lured by legendary West Coast powder, will face longer lines to make turns on what is becoming the mogul skiing capital of North America. Once again, bullshit.
Meanwhile Pemberton’s real estate market is suffering from an oversupply of housing even as developers are proposing more and more projects up and down the valley. Squamish is preparing to spew new neighbourhoods in all directions, just as developers are reviving the Garibaldi at Squamish ski resort concept — complete with about 20,000 new bed units that would double the town’s population on busy weekends. As with the approval of the new big box stores, the whole idea of Smart Growth has been tossed out the window.
Our own plans for sustainability are going out the window with it, as well as the physical beauty and remoteness that made this place so attractive to begin with. What developers are planning for the region can only really be classified as urban sprawl — the same ugly lot by lot development of green spaces that many of us were fleeing when we moved to Whistler and Sea to Sky in the first place.