News » Whistler

Rainbow’s commercial component a concern

Wells calls for a new Memorandum of Understanding with developer



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The municipality’s general manager of engineering and public works, Brian Barnett, explained that in order to build a self-sufficient sewage treatment plant at Rainbow, Whistler would need to embark on an extensive public consultation process and approvals from the province – a process which could take up to a year.

But Wells said Whistler’s sewage system is based on the resort’s development cap and the size of the system is based on buildout of the resort. There were times in the last year where the sewage treatment plant was over its peak. If Rainbow can fit onto the system, housing more than 1,200 people, what developments will be compromised in the future she asked.

Mayor Hugh O’Reilly dismissed her concerns saying the municipality had contemplated adding 6,000 more employee housing bed units during the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan. The sewage system, he said, can cope with additional growth like that.

But for Wells the change to the sewer system, among other things, is a sign that perhaps the developer, the municipality and the Whistler Housing Authority should redo the original MOU, instead of trying to fit the current reality into an outdated document.

"The Memorandum of Understanding… was intended to be a guide," she said. "It’s pretty much expired."

The MOU anticipated the master planning and permitting process and all the rezoning would be complete by September.

Harley said they are now aiming to go through the rezoning process in October.

And yet, along with outstanding questions about sewer and the commercial space, the water for the site has still to be confirmed. Tests of water in the area are underway to gauge quantity and quality. Those should be complete by the end of the month.

"Your timeline is incredibly aggressive," said Wells. "I don’t want to rush this for the sake of rushing."

Since being made public the MOU has come under fire from members of the public, such as Port Moody resident Jeff Sanca.

Sanca highlights among other things, a section of the MOU which requires the municipality to buy the 70 single family employee housing lots at a cost of $100,000 each if the lots do not sell; a cost of up to $7 million to the municipality.

"I can see why the developer is desirous to have this fast-tracked," wrote Sanca in a letter to council. "The MOU is completely one-sided in favour of the developer by any reasonable interpretation."