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Shoestring falls flat on green building commitments

Council sends bylaws back to staff for review



After an inspiring workshop with the chair of the Canada Green Building Council Tuesday, there was palpable disappointment at the council table over the new Shoestring project.

So much so council sent the development’s bylaws, which were at the final adoption stage, back to staff for review and did not mince its words on what it saw as a failure to live up to green building standards.

“This doesn’t look like a very strong commitment to Whistler Green to me,” said Councillor Tim Wake, referring to the community’s checklist for green building standards on residential homes.

“I expect more.”

Of the 70 checklist items on the Whistler Green document, Cressey Development Corporation is committing to 46. That’s about 65 per cent.

Cressey’s development manager, David Evans, who was at the council meeting Tuesday and heard council’s discussion, said the checklist for Whistler Green in a multi-family development has not been adopted by council. It is something that is being developed through this project.

“Obviously from our perspective, certainty is paramount and we have no certainty,” said Evans. “There is no adopted program in place… Without an adopted plan and a set of goalposts to identify and define what our target is, you’re always left up to individual’s interpretations of the definition of green and what is green building.

“Everyone has a different definition of green.”

Whistler Green requires the developer meet certain standards. It provides a checklist to meet additional standards over and above the required items.

Evans said those required items, which Cressey has committed to, are in and of themselves very stringent.

As for the additional checklist items, the company is committing to things such as installing dual flush toilets and it will recycle at least 50 per cent of construction waste by volume. It will not, however, be installing systems that produce electricity from renewable sources — a checklist item that scores big points with Whistler Green.

Council specifically raised the point that Cressey is not installing a district energy system to heat and cool the upscale townhouse development just north of the village.

Council’s comments, said Mayor Ken Melamed, should come as no surprise.

“This is not taking on something at a late stage,” he said.

“If this is Cressey’s best effort, they may need some other incentive.”

The veiled threat comes on the heels of a workshop with leading Vancouver architect Peter Busby, the chair of the Canada Green Building Council.

Busby delivered a brand new presentation, which he is taking on the road to the top 25 cities across the country.

The presentation, “Canadian Cities in a Climate of Change,” details how cities can set the standards for green building.

“I think cities can… be the solutions for Canadians in reducing emissions,” said Busby.

When asked by the mayor how cities can force developers to comply with standards, Busby had some suggestions, such as tying their occupancy permit to meeting certain standards.

Council was inspired by the workshop and more determined than ever to reinforce its commitment to green building standards.

Evans too said he wants to sit down with staff at the municipality and revisit the checklist. The company has already worked through a number of iterations with staff.

“The process is never easy,” he said. “We’ll have to do a better job to get together, try and create some certainty on what the expectation is here and move forward.

“We’re a believer in it (green building).”

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