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SRLD faces lost tax revenue from Whistler’s proposed expansion

Boundary expansion covers potential 100 home development near Wedge Mountain



Whistler’s proposed boundary expansion could result in a sizable loss of tax revenue for the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, particularly if the RMOW borders grow to the north.

A potential development project of roughly 100 single family homes on Whistler’s northern edge could be swallowed into the municipality under the expansion plans. This would mean lost tax dollars for the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.

At Monday’s regular meeting of the SLRD board, Chair Susan Gimse expressed concerns about the economic impact to the district if the boundary expansion goes ahead as proposed. She was particularly concerned about the tax loss from the proposed residential development north of Whistler.

The proposed project currently lies in Area C, approximately two kilometres north of Green Lake on the east side of Highway 99.

Gimse said the tax revenues from that development project alone would be huge for the regional district.

"It’s a huge tax assessment (for Area C)," she said.

For Whistler, by comparison, the taxes would be a drop in the bucket she said.

Gimse isn’t the only one concerned about the expansion.

Landowner Peter Bruckmann, who plans to develop the homes north of Whistler, said he was "strongly opposed" to the boundary expansion over the Green River area.

"We strongly wish to remain in the Regional District and to remain subject to its jurisdiction," said Bruckmann in a recent letter to the SLRD.

"We are pleased with the service we receive from the Regional District, the working relationship that we have with it, and wish to maintain these."

Should his land be annexed by Whistler, the taxes on the homes would be substantially higher than SLRD taxes.

Bruckmann’s 600 acres of land lies on both sides of Highway 99. The development is planned for the east side of the highway, north of the Green River bridge at the Wedge Mountain parking lot.

The land, some of which has been re-forested, is currently zoned Rural Resource One, under the SLRD’s zoning.

That zoning allows the land to be subdivided into 27 lots of a minimum size of 20 acres. Each lot could hold four single family homes, resulting in a development of more than 100 homes in total.

The zoning for a single family home development in that area has been in place since 2003.

SLRD staff is currently in the process of reviewing the development. It has yet to come before the board for approval.

In the meantime, Whistler has forged ahead with its boundary expansion plans.

In June council directed staff to submit a boundary extension request to the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services.

If Cabinet approves the expansion, Whistler’s Official Community Plan will be amended to include the new areas.

The proposed expansion stretches in four directions, covering primarily rural land and including some privately owned, leased and licensed lands.

The expansion extends to land north and east of the current boundaries next to the Green River, south to include the Whistler Interpretive Forest and Jane Lakes, west to encompass Mount Sproatt and southwest to the lower Callaghan Valley west of Callaghan Creek. If approved the resort municipality will grow from 16,500 hectares to close to 27,000 hectares.

The goal of the expansion is to ensure Whistler has control of its outlying areas and to protect municipal watersheds.

SLRD board members have expressed concern recently about the lack of consultation from Whistler about its expansion plans.

Bruckmann also said he had not been contacted about the plans to expand.

"We are a substantial private landowner in the Green River area and, as a result, we expected that we would have received from Whistler, information on the annexation proposal and that Whistler would have sought our opinion before making its submission," wrote Bruckmann.

SLRD Board member John Turner, director of Area D which lies south of Whistler and stretches all the way to Porteau Cove, said more regional district constituents might come forward to complain about the boundary expansion as they learn more about it.

"There may be some further objections as well, not just north of Whistler," he cautioned.

The SLRD and municipality are planning to meet to discuss some of the issues around the boundary expansion.