A large parcel of land could soon be added to the Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) portfolio.
At its Oct. 17 meeting, council authorized staff to prepare a zoning amendment bylaw for the 44-hectare Prism lands located at 1501 Alta Lake Road.
The lands are currently zoned RS-E1 (residential single estate one), which permits just one detached dwelling on the sizeable parcel.
In a report to council, director of planning Mike Kirkegaard said the owners' plan stems from a desire to increase the development potential of the land.
Under this proposal, the owners would be able to subdivide the property and develop four residential real estate lots. The remainder of the land — 40 ha. — would be dedicated to the RMOW.
The amendment would create new site-specific zoning for the property, and pave the way for municipal use of the lands.
The lands are seen to have significant value to the RMOW for a number of reasons, with potential uses including parks, trails, open space, protection of wetlands and from wildfire, securing a legal right of way for sewer lines, securing public access and a trail connection to Function Junction from Alta Lake Road, and employee housing.
About 0.4 ha. of the land will be combined to an existing, adjacent 0.8-ha. parcel already owned by the RMOW, and designated for employee housing.
A large area of the parcel isn't well suited for development as it's quite steep, "but it's always great to acquire land," Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said after the meeting, comparing the potential acquisition to the RMOW's purchase of the Parkhurst lands earlier this year.
"It is a great chunk of land — it does have mountain bike trails on it already, it allows us to have that trailhead between the West Side Road and Function Junction," she said.
"There are lots of opportunities, but no urgency to do anything, aside from the potential employee housing site."
The list of potential wins with acquiring the property is extensive, noted Councillor John Grills.
"One of the smaller wins, but one I think is really attractive at this time is the taking control of a large chunk of private lands for our wildfire risk reduction," Grills said.
"This is a real key entry point for the valley."
"I think the possibility of securing the recreational amenities that exist there now and the housing that will come as part of it is exciting," added Coun. Jack Crompton.
The lands are owned by Prism Properties Inc., being represented in this application by Crosland Doak Design.
Reached by email, Doak said it would be premature to discuss details of the application with it being so early in the rezoning process.
A public hearing will be held at a later date in relation to the rezoning.