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RMOW presses for comment on boundary expansion

Lawyers for Wedge development express opposition to province

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Whistler is pushing hard for provincial approval of its boundary expansion before a large residential development on its northern outskirts gets the green light.

At the same time, lawyers for the developers have voiced their opposition to Whistler’s expansion plans to the provincial government.

Peter Kenward of the legal firm of McCarthy Tétrault wrote to the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services on Oct. 19 stating: "If the Resort Municipality of Whistler proceeds further with this application, we would ask that the Ministry reject the application, at least insofar as it relates to our client’s lands.

"There are a number of indicators that the present (boundary expansion) application amounts to an effort by a Municipality to alter the planning regulations applicable to a neighbouring local government. The proper procedure where one local government disagrees with the planning and land use bylaws of another local government is to make submissions to that other local government, rather than seeking to usurp its jurisdiction."

Whistler had stated its case loudly and clearly to the regional district. Quite simply, the RMOW is opposed to the Wedge development, just as it was opposed to the SLRD’s approval of a campground development on the resort’s southern outskirts earlier this year.

"We’re just disappointed that the regional district isn’t supporting us," said Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly.

The land under debate, which lies at the base of Wedge Mountain on the east side of Highway 99, is within the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and is already zoned for residential development. In fact, developers have been discussing a development with the SLRD for the past two years and recently submitted a formal application to the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Highways.

At Monday’s SLRD board meeting, O’Reilly reminded his fellow SLRD directors that the resort municipality’s boundary expansion has been on the table for years.

The opportunity to negotiate an expansion came as part of the legacies for Whistler’s involvement in the 2010 Olympic Games. The municipality’s objectives were twofold. It wanted to have a more active stewardship of Whistler’s watersheds but also have control over the activities on the lands surrounding the municipality.

As such O’Reilly said the proposed Wedge development, which stretches two kilometres north of Green Lake, is a real concern for the municipality. Allowing that development to move forward would be an exploitation of Whistler’s assets he said.

"It’s not in our best interest to see that occur," he added.

If the provincial government approves the resort’s boundary expansion, the municipality will swallow up the Wedge lands, which are privately owned, making it difficult for the residential development to move ahead.

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