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Village retail plan shifts gears

Two bylaws move forward

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By Alison Taylor

The London Drugs debate, which was finally put to rest last week, has shone a spotlight on Whistler Village and its importance to the resort.

“The more we can understand (the village retail mix), the better,” said Mayor Ken Melamed this week.

Two controversial bylaws that address the village makeup are on hold at municipal hall but expected to come forward soon.

The first is a bylaw that would limit the size of retail occupancy to 5,000 square feet, but grandfather the handful of businesses that are already bigger. The second deals with the Commercial Core One zone, or the CC1, and limits the development in that zone to its current density.

“The retail study seems to support both of those directions,” said Melamed. “And I think council was suggesting that they’ve been out there on the books for a while, let’s close these two off and then we’ll deal with the many other issues that have come up as a result of the study.”

The study he is referring to is the recently completed retail study, which takes a comprehensive look at the retail offerings in Whistler with recommendations on how to improve.

Municipal manager of long-term planning, Mike Kirkegaard, said the CC1 bylaw is a priority project for staff. Draft view protection guidelines and solar access protection guidelines are finished and he expects to take the bylaw to council in the near future.

When it was first proposed in 2004, however, there was outcry from several property owners as it was seen as killing any chances for expansion and redevelopment in the CC1.

The retail size bylaw also faced several objections at its first open house in June 2005. At that time the bylaw was linked in many minds to the London Drugs application. Council put the bylaw on hold pending the outcome of the retail study.

Kirkegaard said there will be community consultation with stakeholders as they begin to examine the study’s recommendations.

“Our project approach will definitely be one of engagement,” he said.

“We are developing our approach for implementation of the retail study and going to be working with the community to come up with a strategic implementation plan.”

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