Council wants community feedback on the proposed next phase of development at the Riverside Campground.
Despite some concerns from the mayor and council, the rezoning application was recently moved forward for review at a public open house.
“I realize that the project has become highly politicized,” said Councillor Ralph Forsyth.
Like his colleagues, he had outstanding questions about the project, which would see the next phase of the campground development, on the east side of Fitzsimmons Creek, replace some of the planned tent camping sites with yurts and add an indoor/outdoor spa.
Forsyth said he wanted to hear from other spa owners in Whistler to see if they had any concerns about increased competition.
He also called on council to take a tour of the site to see first-hand what the Riverside owners are proposing in the rezoning.
The last council meeting on Monday, Aug. 20 marked the third time the project has been before council since April. Each time Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden has voiced her discomfort with some aspects of the rezoning.
“There’s a bit of spin going on here,” said the councillor, who reminded council again of Riverside’s history.
The project was approved in three phases in the late 1990s. In 2002 the owners advised municipal staff that it could not meet the timeframes for the phased development as set out in the covenants and were working on solutions. The proposed solutions are to reduce the number of walk-in tent sites, add yurt sites and bring in Le Scandinave Spa.
Wilhelm-Morden cautioned that the developer was pushing the project to the open house stage at his own risk.
“I still have a considerable number of questions,” she added.
Mayor Ken Melamed also had several questions and urged the community to ask those questions as it considered the project at the public open house.
What will the yurts become? Is this camping? Will it compete with other accommodation sectors in the resort like bed and breakfasts?
“I’m really concerned about the yurts and the loss of the tent sites,” said the mayor.
Patrick St. Arnaud, with La Scandinave Spa in Mont Tremblant, reiterated that the unique spa experience would not compete with existing businesses, but rather enhance the health and wellness product offered in Whistler.
He also said the developers are committed to reducing their energy footprint — another concern raised by council.
The municipality has not yet set a date for the public open house.
Last phase of Nicklaus North considered
Plans are underway to build on the last remaining piece of land connected with the Nicklaus North development.
The landowner, Green Lake Projects Inc., has applied to municipal hall for permission to build out 39 single-family homes on the west side of the highway at Nicklaus North.
The land can only be developed once all community amenities associated with the Nicklaus North development have been delivered.
Staff has negotiated with the developer to change some of those outstanding amenities.
And so, instead of building a Mons Road extension and a Fitzsimmons Creek bridge and trail network, both of which were negotiated 12 years ago when the project first came to council, several new amenities are proposed.
They include, among other things:
• installing a pedestrian-activated signal at the intersection of Highway 99 and Nicklaus North Boulevard to provide a safe crossing point for Valley Trail and transit users;
• installing a Valley Trail bridge over the River of Golden Dreams on the west side of Highway 99. This would provide a thoroughfare from the pedestrian signal to the Meadow Park Sports Centre;
• constructing 430 metres of Valley Trail from the CN Rail crossing to the Riverside Campground property. This will provide the desired Valley Trail loop, ultimately connecting to Spruce Grove Park.
Council was to have considered the staff report at the last council meeting on Monday, Aug. 20 but it was removed from the agenda due to time constraints. It is expected the report will be back before council at the next meeting.