News » Whistler

Rainbow Gas Station quashed at 11th hour

Councillors balk at doubling size



The proposed gas station at Rainbow has been stopped in its tracks at the last minute.

In a five to two vote, council put the brakes on the application which would see the convenience store portion of the six-pump station double in size.

"We've waited this long (for another gas station)," said Mayor Ken Melamed as part of his rationale for voting against it. "The town is actually not starving for fuel."

Among his objections are the concerns about the larger commercial space at Rainbow, zoned in part for a grocery store and the plans to increase its space.

Rainbow's developers looked to double the size of the convenience store to entice a gas company to lease the space.

"I also am not comfortable with the size," said Councillor Grant Lamont.

He said the developers bought the land with the current zoning; there was no guarantee it was going to get bigger.

"You get what you buy," added Lamont.

Council's objections came at the 11 th hour when it was considering third reading of the bylaw. At the last meeting council held a public hearing and heard concerns from a handful of neighbours and the owners of the closest store, Alpine Meadows Market.

Throughout the rezoning process, however, council has expressed some discomfort about the proposed size of the station.

Councillors Chris Quinlan and Ralph Forsyth supported the rezoning, though Quinlan was looking for more information from staff about comparable sizes of other stations in the corridor.

Forsyth also pointed out that the municipality asked the developers to separate the gas station application from the larger commercial development application - a move that appeared to work against them in the long run.


New bus service approved for fall


Whistler is getting a new express bus linking the north end of the valley to the south. It will be called the Valley Connector.

It's part of the new changes to the bus system, prompted after a multi-million dollar deficit in transit this year that Whistler simply could not fund,

And while the Valley Connector will be welcome news for some, others have expressed concern that some of the buses would now not be going through Gondola Exchange at the base of the mountain.

"We tried to do everything and serve everyone in the community," explained Emma DalSanto, transportation demand management planner for the municipality.

After extensive community consultation BC Transit and the municipality developed a bus service that will see some cuts, but has been refined to deliver the best service under the tightest budget. It will be implemented in November.

"Obviously we've had to downsize," said Mayor Ken Melamed. "I think we're comfortable, still somewhat nervous about what the final costs will be."

Under the original "Business as Usual" service, Whistler was short $2.3 million. Through budget refinements and service reviews, the unfunded gap now stands at $1.1 million.

The financials will be presented to council in the coming months and staff will recommend how Whistler will pay for it, be it through property tax increases or taking money from hotel tax.

The mayor said: "I for one am looking forward to being a bus user."


Small steps make difference to air quality


Whistler is "leading the pack" in terms of initiatives to protect its airshed.

That was the recent message from provincial compliance officers who gave a short presentation to council this week.

The officers said Whistler is at the forefront in terms of cracking down on small point source emissions with things like its anti-idling bylaw.

"The small steps make a big difference," said officer Mark Scott.

Scott also told council there have been a number of complaints in the community to their office about the asphalt plant.

He said there are often misconceptions that plumes of steam and odour are also toxic for the environment and detrimental to human health.

"They're not necessarily a bad thing for human health and the environment," he said.

His own personal belief, he said, is that Whistler is improving its air quality.

He said: "You have a lot of air quality issues that are outside your jurisdictional boundaries."

A meeting is scheduled for Sept. 13 to discuss Whistler's air quality.