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Rezoning on the table for Whistler RV Park

Park not on board with 'forced rezoning'



The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is hoping to finally bring the Whistler RV Park under the umbrella of its zoning bylaws, but the park isn't on board with the proposed amendment.

The RV Park was brought into the RMOW with 2007's boundary expansion, but has since remained unzoned under RMOW bylaws.

"Basically, they're reducing our future entitlements to zero, and they tried to do that with the Official Community Plan (squashed by the B.C. Supreme Court in June of 2014)," said Gordon Calder, the park's general manager, ahead of the council meeting.

"Now that that's gone they're trying to rezone us."

The RV park is currently zoned under an SLRD bylaw that, along with a single family home, permits everything from farming and livestock raising to the extraction of raw materials.

The campground is also regulated by the Ministry of Forests via a 30-year Crown land lease, which permits 102 serviced RV sites for year round use, 44 seasonal tent sites, washing facilities, a caretaker's cabin, a maintenance building, mountain biking trails, a paintball course and events hosting up to 900 people.

RMOW staff are proposing a custom zone for the property that would allow the Crown land uses and the single-family dwelling use under the current SLRD bylaw.

But the main dispute has come from the owner's proposal to put cabins for snowmobilers on the property.

"I've approached the municipality about building cabins for backcountry access because it's a totally different product than what's currently available in the village, and we're looking at bringing a totally different user group up here," Calder said.

"And the planning department has basically just outright said no."

The RMOW's rationale for saying no is that adding the cabins would require an amendment to the OCP, as it would increase the municipality's bed units and the campground lands are located outside of the proposed Urban Development Containment Area (UDCA).

But in a presentation to council on Jan. 26, Whistler RV Park employee Sheldon Steckman argued those points shouldn't be relevant.

"Whistler's proposed UDCA is a concept from an overturned 2013 OCP that is not relevant in this case," Steckman said. "There is no info regarding the UDCA on the municipal website at this time, nor is there mention of the UDCA in the 1993 OCP."

Steckman asked council to instruct staff to include tourist accommodation designation to its zoning bylaw amendment.

Calder said the park hopes to fill a gap in Whistler's accommodation offerings by offering cabins for snowmobilers — a user group he said is currently not being catered to in Whistler.

"The antiquated protectionism that they have for the multinational corporations that run all of the accommodation in the village is incorrect," he said.

"The village is overrun and we all know that. It's noisy and people want alternatives, but the municipality is not budging."

Calder said he understands why the RMOW has policies that protect village hotels, but doesn't feel the cabins should apply.

"The problem is, we're not going after people who would come to the village anyway," he said.

"They're not coming here, and the reason they're not coming here is because no one has a product like we would like to offer."

At the Jan. 26 council meeting, council authorized staff to prepare a zoning amendment bylaw for the park — it is not clear if Calder's request will be part of the new bylaw. The amendment will be brought forward at a future council meeting.

A public hearing will follow.

The Whistler RV Park is located 18 kilometres south of Whistler Village near Brandywine Provincial Park.