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Talks ongoing with First Nations over Whistler's OCP

Upcoming provincial election a concern for mayor as Whistler waits for OCP approval

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With an election in B.C. just around the corner, Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden is anxiously awaiting provincial approval of Whistler's most important land use document.

The updated Official Community Plan (OCP) was submitted to the province in December amid threats of legal action from the neighbouring First Nations — Squamish and Lil'wat. It is not yet approved.

"I would hope that we would hear about the OCP before the May 14 election," said Wilhelm-Morden this week. "That's my only concern, that it's still hanging out there and there's an election with a potential change in government. I would be concerned about that.

"The province knows that we're anxious to have this approved and get this done so I don't think there's any foot dragging on their part. There just is a process that they have to follow."

The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development released this statement in response to

Pique's request for an update:

"The ministry continues to review the OCP and is working with both parties."

Due to scheduling conflicts, however, ministry staff will not be able to meet with local First Nations representatives until after March 25.

Squamish and Lil'wat Nations take issue with the OCP as it relates to economic opportunities around undeveloped Crown land within the municipal boundaries. Whistler's OCP sets a "hard cap" on developing within the resort municipality, on land "upon which there is unresolved aboriginal rights and title," according to the nations.

The province must meet its constitutional duty to consult with First Nations on their claimed aboriginal rights.

Wilhelm-Morden said though the updated OCP is not yet approved, Whistler still has its old plan, which has been around for a long time and has served the community in good stead.

"As far as ongoing land use decisions, it's not like we're without an OCP," said the mayor.

Whistler is expected to make at least one major land use decision this year when it comes to the fate of the proposed Whistler International Campus rezoning, proposed for the Alpha Creek lands north of Function Junction.

The Learning and Education Task Force has scheduled an open house for April 4 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Whistler Conference Centre — a chance for the community to learn about the task force findings and to provide feedback.

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