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RMOW presses for comment on boundary expansion

Lawyers for Wedge development express opposition to province

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O’Reilly led the charge at Monday’s regional district meeting to vote against a recommendation that would see all decisions on boundary expansion requests in the district deferred for at least a year. The rationale behind the delay was to wait until the SLRD’s Regional Growth Strategy, an ongoing comprehensive study outlining a common vision and goals for the region, was complete.

O’Reilly said the resort municipality can’t wait for the completion of the RGS because of the pending Wedge application. "There’s an active application, which we have real concerns with," he said.

Though six of the nine board members supported him in voting against the delay, Board Chair Susan Gimse did not. She said the RGS was a way to look at regional land use planning in the district on the whole by examining the social, environmental and economic factors.

"I thought the premise of the Regional Growth Strategy was to bring it all to the same table," she said.

She questioned whether or not the board was putting the cart before the horse by considering boundary expansions outside of the RGS.

Squamish Mayor Ian Sutherland said Squamish, Whistler, Lillooet and Pemberton have the right to discuss possible boundary expansions and he could not see how the SLRD board could delay that right of its four member municipalities.

Monday’s recommendation also called for a delay on decisions over major new rezoning developments, such as the one proposed at Porteau Cove.

The board also briefly considered voting on Whistler’s boundary expansions at Monday’ meeting. The SLRD is expected to comment on the boundary expansion as part of the provincial referral process.

Steven Olmstead, the SLRD’s manager of planning and development, expressed concerns that a delay on the board’s part could mean Whistler’s boundary expansion proposal moves forward at the provincial level without comment from the SLRD. Pressure is mounting for a decision, he added.

A few board members however expressed concern about voting on Whistler’s boundary expansion without having time to fully consider the issue.

O’Reilly promised that Whistler would ease off on the pressure and would wait until the board had made its decision at their Dec. 17th board meeting.

Whistler’s proposed expansion will take up more than 10,000 hectares of SLRD land. The land is both Crown land and private land.

The expansion covers four main areas including:

• the land southwest to cover the lower Callaghan Valley, west of Callaghan Creek;

• west to encompass Mount Sproatt;

• south to include the Whistler Interpretive Forest and Jane Lakes, and, the remaining portion of the Whistler-Blackcomb Controlled Recreation Area;

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