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Size of Nita Lake Lodge is the issue: Lambert



Chateau du Lac owner doesn’t want to see community lose developer’s donations

Sitting in his kitchen overlooking Nita Lake, Keith Lambert said he does not want Whistler to lose out on a million-dollar donation to health care.

That was not his intention when he challenged the municipality for accepting the sizable donation as part of land deal in Creekside.

He is however concerned about the size of the Nita Lake Lodge development planned to go up on the south shores of one of Whistler’s smallest lakes.

"We don’t want to stop the whole development," he said late last week from his home, the Chateau du Lac.

"We don’t want the donations to fall by the wayside.

"(But) we think that without those benefits, council would never approve this."

Seeking the advice of legal counsel, Lambert wrote to the municipality challenging the bylaws of the Nita Lake Lodge development after council voted 4 to 1 to move ahead with the project.

Soon after, the municipality moved the project back to square one, striking the million dollar donation from the deal and rewriting all the zoning bylaws to avoid a potential lawsuit.

This will force a second public hearing on the development.

Those original bylaws allow the municipality to rezone the end of Lake Placid Road for a four-storey lodge and train station. The development also includes 14 large single family homes dotted in 23 forested acres on the southwest side of the lake.

Included in the land deal are a host of community amenities like:

• 25 acres of sensitive wetlands preserved in perpetuity;

• 7 times the amount of employee housing required by the development;

• $1 million to health care – $500,000 to the Community Foundation of Whistler and $585,000 for X-ray equipment at the Whistler Health Care Centre;

• $15,000 to the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group for environmental enhancement work to Jordan Creek;

• $10,000 to WORCA for trail enhancement works; and

• $10,000 for a recreational amenity for youth at Alpha Lake Park.

Lambert challenged some of these amenities on the grounds that they are "unrelated benefits" and as such they could have been used to entice public opinion and council’s judgement.

"I don’t want to impugn anyone’s integrity here because that’s not in doubt," he said.

"This is common practice and it’s common practice not only in Whistler but in other places. But there’s strong case law evidence that says it’s unlawful and that’s not in doubt."