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The Resort of British Columbia


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The initial Summit was held in Whistler in April 2006 and was attended by planners from communities throughout B.C. as well as, Alberta, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and California. In 2007, the Summit was enthusiastically welcomed by Breckenridge, well situated in the heart of Colorado mountain planning.

The conference’s format is intimate, with less than 100 participants, daily plenary presentations and facilitated breakout sessions. The Summit is unique as participants are effectively the presenters as they collectively brainstorm many of the key challenges facing our communities and work towards developing a framework for effective practices. The topics are selected by the participants through a survey administered a month prior to the event.

In 2007 the major areas of interest that the attendees selected and the key directions included the following: S ustainability in Mountain Towns and Tourist Destinations; Preservation of Unique Built Environments; Economic Change; Innovative Design for Affordable Housing; Preserving the Natural Setting; and Resort Development and Redevelopment . As well as the key discussion topics there was also interest in considering more specific challenges such as short-term accommodation, ground floor office use in retail areas, fractional ownership of accommodation and ease of accessibility to the community. (Summary and verbatim results for the ’06 and ’07 Summit’s are available on the website www.mountaintownplanners.com.)

Following the Summit I returned to B.C. feeling inspired. I was at that time focusing on an update of an Official Community Plan in a southern Okanagan community. Although this community is increasingly populated by retiring yet active individuals from B.C. and Alberta and is developing a summer and agri-tourism industry, it is and will not be a resort community like Vail, Aspen or Banff. But as I worked through their issues I found myself increasingly drawing on the experiences from resort community planning, including affordable housing restrictions, amenity zoning, golf resort development, design controls and nightly rental restrictions. I was perplexed and concerned as many of these major issues are those faced by resort communities.

I again went into research mode looking at similar communities in B.C. and found that these planning trends are occurring province-wide in communities as diverse as Smithers and Ucluelet. I also made a point of registering for the Planning Institute of B.C. Conference “A Good Thing Growing” (April 2007) as much of the new resort development is being focused in the Okanagan region. It was during a plenary session by Trevor Boddy that things started to gel. His presentation closely followed an article he authored in the August 2006 edition of Canadian Architect. Downtown's Last Resort , his critical assessment of Vancouver’s 1991 Downtown Plan. Boddy indicated that despite honest intentions of community leaders the high density neighbourhoods that have sprouted up all over Downtown Vancouver are not as socially and economically diverse as existing City neighbourhoods, rather “new residents are a golden global class temporarily parking their investment dollars, linked with a huge cohort of Canadian baby boomers planning to spend their final years in Vancouver”.