By Alison Taylor
Whistler council hasn’t reinstated its funding at the regional
district despite the board’s decision to hold off on rezoning a development on
the resort’s northern edge.
While extremely pleased with the Squamish-Lillooet Regional
District’s decision, Mayor Ken Melamed said there is still some time to decide
whether Whistler still wants to continue to provide the lion’s share of the
SLRD’s planning fund.
“We’ll continue to explore whether we want to be in the
planning function or not,” said the mayor on the heels of the decision to defer
the rezoning. “Council said they didn’t think it was bringing any benefit to Whistler
so they’re going to continue to analyze it based on that assumption.”
In a calculated move, designed to send a strong message to the
regional district, Whistler council made the abrupt decision to pull out of the
planning budget in early September. Councillors were angry that the board was
entertaining a rezoning application that would see a residential estate
development on Whistler’s northern edge go from 64 homes to 108.
Whistler has long expressed opposition to the project. The SLRD
board’s August decision to move ahead with the rezoning was the tipping point.
“When the board made their decision on Green River Estates it
was a watershed (moment), it was a change in the way we perceive our
relationship and our understanding of what needs to be done to keep that
relationship healthy,” said Melamed.
SLRD board chair John Turner said this week that the board made
the decision to defer the Green River Estates rezoning because of Whistler’s
outstanding application for a boundary expansion over that area.
Because the rezoning application could complicate or delay a
decision from the province on the boundary expansion, the board decided to
delay the rezoning.
“What we were trying to do is to remove that point of conflict
within our board,” said Turner. “We’ve got many other things that we want to
proceed on and it’s important that we were able to move forward on those other
things without having this overhanging everything.
“The real purpose behind (that decision) was so that we could
move ahead as a board and not be dysfunctional.”
Turner said the board’s decision was not related to Whistler’s
removal of funding.
He is optimistic and hopeful Whistler council will change its
“What’s more important I think is the ongoing relationship
between Whistler and Squamish and the SLRD,” said Turner. “And that’s important
to all of us. My position on that is we can accomplish a heck of a lot more
when we work together than if we’re working apart.”
Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, who instigated the move to
withdraw funding, also said she was pleased with the SLRD’s decision. She is
concerned, however, that the board changed its mind only because the rezoning
application would slow down the boundary expansion and not because it was the
wrong decision from Whistler’s planning perspective.
“We’ve got just very different members,” said Wilhelm-Morden.
“The needs and interests of the various member groups are quite
Turner admits that the Green River Estates project is a
development where there appears to be no middle ground.
“This has really caused conflict because there’s different
positions being taken here,” he said.
On the one hand Whistler is concerned about fringe development
taking advantage of its services and resources. On the flip side, the
development will be a boost to rural Area C. The developer has promised almost
$2.5 million in recreational and cultural amenities to the SLRD if the rezoning
“On the issue of land use we seem to have a different opinion
here,” said Turner.
Due to the timing of Whistler’s decision to pull the funding,
the resort must still contribute to the 2007 budget. Whistler has time to
consider whether it will be a part of the 2008 budget.
A meeting has been planned for Oct. 12 with municipal, provincial, SLRD staff and the developer.