News » Whistler

Shipping containers to be banned in neighbourhoods

Council Briefs: Beacon Pub gets upgrade; wayfinding signs on the way; and police patrols beefed up in parks and on River of Golden Dreams



Council has paved the way for a new bylaw that will ban shipping containers in residential neighbourhoods.

Whistler is now starting to see a proliferation of these containers in residential subdivisions.

The municipality has two specific concerns about that: safety and aesthetics.

But not all of council was in agreement.

In its first vote this term that wasn't unanimous, Councillors Jack Crompton and Jen Ford balked at the staff direction to develop a bylaw.

"I'd like us to focus on the look of these," said Crompton. "I think that the main problem that we're addressing is they're ugly."

He suggested there were other ways through the municipality's building bylaws to regulate the look of the containers.

Ford said she changed her mind on the bylaw after considering that using the containers is up-cycling something that would otherwise be destroyed.

Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden countered: "Recycle them in an industrial use where they fit... in Function Junction, not Alpine Meadows."

She said residents could build sheds in order to store their things.

"These things are really just a blight on the landscape in my opinion," said the mayor.

The majority of council agreed.

"I could totally use one myself," said Councillor John Grills, as he welcomes home his university kids.

The problem, as he sees it, is once one gets into a neighbourhood, others pop up.

With a five to two vote, municipal staff will now move forward to develop a bylaw that will prohibit the use of shipping containers in residential neighbourhoods.

Old Citta' space looks to get new overhaul

Council is open to a plan that will see a major upgrade at one of the most iconic village restaurants.

The old Citta', now The Beacon Pub, wants the restaurant to have more seats — moving from 100 to 150 indoor seats and 114 to 116 outdoor seats for a total of 52 new seats — as well as an expansion of gross floor area — 107 square metres (350 square feet).

Municipal staff looked to council for direction this week before proceeding with the rezoning.

The complex rezoning, which includes purchasing a small portion of land in the public area from the municipality, has a few issues.

Chief among them is the possibility that the extra space could narrow the Village Stroll, albeit marginally.

Councillor Steve Anderson was also worried about setting precedent, paving the way for more patios to come to the hall looking for space.

"These patios have come up over the years," said municipal director of planning Mike Kirkegaard, adding that Araxi's patio has also extended into the municipal right of way.

"As these are coming forward we are looking very closely at not going too narrow on these stroll areas."

The mayor was pleased.

"I think this is tremendous to see," she said, adding that it was supposed to be done as part of the major Crystal Lodge overhaul about a decade ago.

"It was a noticeable incompletion of that huge project."

She asked, however, if there was a chance to rezone the restaurant space from CC1 zoning to defined restaurant zoning, preserving that space as a critical village restaurant space in perpetuity.

Kirkegaard said the applicant was open to that discussion.

The rezoning work will now get underway after council's approval of the general concept.

Heidi Haus approved but with covenants

Council has approved third reading of a zoning amendment bylaw for the Heidi Haus pension on Nesters Road, but with a few conditions.

The rezoning, which legitimizes a legally nonconforming eighth bedroom in the pension, drew the ire of neighbours who voiced their concerns at the recent public hearing. Chief among those concerns was the noise, which has only become noticeable since the pension changed hands in 2014 and the long-term owners moved out.

Council's caveats to the rezoning were to add covenants on the property requiring the owner, or building manager, to live on site as well as another covenant blocking any further building on one portion of the property.

The mayor said she felt it was a good solution to deal with the concerns raised at the public hearing, effectively about the spillover effects of a mini-hotel in a residential neighbourhood.

Police parks patrol gearing up for summer

It has been known as the "Day Bar" in the past, but Whistler's RCMP are determined that name won't catch on.

It will remain Rainbow Park, and police are gearing up for another busy summer of bike and foot patrols to keep on top of any illegal activity, primarily drug use and drinking, at the local park.

Bike patrols in particular are very effective, said Staff Sergeant Steve LeClair at Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting.

"They don't see it coming," he said, adding that patrols are in front of offenders before they have a chance to pour out their booze.

Local parks aren't the only problem. There's the ever-popular River of Golden Dreams too. Plans are in the works to have extensive patrols on the Valley Trail and Green Lake as well as at the fish weir to keep on top of illegal activity on the river.

"That's a really good spot for us to wait," said LeClair of the fish weir, as people float down the river in inflatable rings and boats with open liquor.

"I've been made aware of a new location called Beer Bay," added LeClair. "It's not accessible by land."

Police will be trying to get in to that spot this year too.

The Whistler Fire Rescue Services is also keeping a close eye on campfire hot spots like House Rock, the gravel pit and at Nita Lake.

Council adds its support for tourism report

Whistler council is doing its part to champion a compelling tourism report, recently developed by resort partners and other key stakeholders.

After a presentation from Tourism Whistler's president and CEO Barrett Fisher at Tuesday's council meeting, council unanimously voted to take the report — Tourism in Canada — Seizing Economic Advantage — to members of the Union of B.C. Municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

The report outlines key recommendations to make Canada more competitive in the tourism field.

"In the 2015 (federal) budget we wanted to see tourism get recognized," said Fisher.

And it has, in part, and she said she's pleased to see some inroads such as increases to Canadian Tourism Commission funding, the amount of which is still to be announced. But there is still work to do.

"We're excited that it's starting to get some momentum," said Fisher.

Finding the way with 250 new signs

New wayfinding signs will soon be on the way to help visitors find their way through the village.

Roughly 250 sign locations have been identified to hold signs of varying sizes and designs, all part of the municipality's wayfinding project. It has a budget of $375,000 for 2015.

Three colours and three village zones have been approved in the signs to help differentiate various parts of the village. They are Village North, Village Centre and Upper Village.

"And this was many, many hours of conversation," said Ted Battiston, manager of special projects, of the efforts to find resolution.

"It's been challenging... We've worked really hard to use existing nomenclature."

The new project will also replace existing "toothbrushing" signs, which stick out pointing in different directions, with one sign listing locations.

There will also be new signage in the day parking lots, in particular over the covered stairs and on the road.

The goal is to have the signs installed by November.

The signs come on the heels of the new maps, which have been developed for Tourism Whistler and for the village kiosks.

This part of the wayfinding project is all part of a larger strategy, which will ultimately deal with signage and helping people navigate their way to Whistler from the airport.