News » Whistler

Private rink approved


There will be a 20,000 square foot private ice rink on Greg Kerfoot’s property at Alpha Lake, and there will not be any additional land for Alpha Lake Park.

Whistler council voted 4-3 Monday to approve a building permit application for the 5,000 square foot home, four auxiliary buildings and the ice rink, but not before an extensive debate.

"The rink is the problem, it’s over the top," Councillor Nick Davies said.

"I don’t know where the line is but I think the rink is over the line."

Kerfoot submitted a proposal for the property last spring which included a 7,800 square foot house, a rink and auxiliary buildings and offered to dedicate 1.56 acres of his site to the municipality to add to Alpha Lake Park. The proposed 7,800 square foot house exceeded the maximum 5,000 square feet allowed under the property’s RR1 zoning, so the project needed rezoning.

Council rejected the proposal and directed that the application be referred to staff for further review.

Last month, building permit applications were submitted for a revised plan which conforms to the RR1 zoning. The revised plan includes a 4,995 square foot house, auxiliary buildings and the rink, which will now be 20,000 square feet, up from the original proposal of 15,000 square feet.

The RR1 zoning permits a single family house of up to 5,000 square feet and places few restrictions on auxiliary buildings.

"Clearly the RR1 zoning didn’t contemplate auxiliary hockey rinks," Councillor Ken Melamed said.

"The proponent has discovered one of the key flaws in the RR1 zoning."

The application came before council the same night it considered adding further restrictions to RR1-zoned properties. The new restrictions delete a number of permitted uses and limit auxiliary buildings to uses related to a single family house.

Kristi Wells, who along with fellow councillors Ted Milner and Stephanie Sloan and Mayor Hugh O’Reilly voted to approve the building permits, said she had an ethical problem with rejecting the Kerfoot proposal because Whistler was looking at changing the rules.

"I can’t support a motion to penalize an applicant because we are thinking of changing the rules," Wells said. "He purchased this land after reviewing what’s allowed under RR1 zoning and talking with staff. He offered us park land and we turned it down."

Wells said she does have issues with the size of the rink but it is what the current zoning allows.

Milner, Sloan and O’Reilly agreed.

"The message we’re sending is you don’t negotiate with this municipality," O’Reilly said. "He came in and negotiated fairly. I think, in fairness, he responded to our concerns. He bought it, he didn’t have to come to us. He could be building now."

"It’s not like we’re saying you can’t have a magnificent house," Melamed replied. "If we believed in ethics and fairness we’d have exotic dancing at Moe Joe’s and a gravel pit at Parkhurst."

Davies said if he was faced with an ethical duty to Kerfoot and an ethical duty to the community he would choose the community every time.

Councillor Dave Kirk, who also voted against issuing building permits, said that ethical debates of this nature had been before council six times since 1992, and each time the applicant had been rejected.

"I find it incredible that council unanimously agree the rink is out of balance with where we intend to go, yet the project is being considered," Kirk said.

While councillors didn’t like the ice rink, plans to use geothermal energy to heat the house and cool the rink were applauded. The house will also be a "green building", utilizing glue-laminated beams and small dimensional lumber, to avoid use of old growth or mature second growth timber.

Plans for the 7.9 acre property, which is largely unvegetated, include a massive landscape rehabilitation effort, estimated at $750,000. The landscape plan is intended to "restore the lands in an environmentally significant way" and includes planting trees as tall as five metres. The plan divides the property into six landscape zones: a water amenity zone which will provide habitat for fish, a foreshore zone, a buffer zone, a house zone, a screening zone and a recreation zone.