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Whistler’s future has arrived in draft form

Community asked for input on CSP over the next month

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Six months ago the municipality asked the community for help with one essential question.

What will Whistler look like in the year 2020?

Overwhelmingly the community decided that Whistler would not look like a resort with a satellite community of residential homes in the Callaghan Valley, 13 kilometres south of Function Junction.

Instead, they said any new housing over the development cap would be for Whistler residents only and was to go within the existing built area between Function Junction and Emerald Estates.

Armed with that information municipal staff, in particular Mike Vance, general manager of community initiatives, and Shannon Gordon, sustainability co-ordinator, have been drawing up the finer details of the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan – an overarching blueprint of Whistler’s future.

The draft blended future has now arrived and once again the community has been asked for input.

"This is the part I think people really have been looking for," said Mayor Hugh O’Reilly, who calls this phase of the planning process the real "meat and potatoes" phase.

The recently released document blends work that began two years ago, under the name Whistler. It’s Our Future , and culls information gathered from consultants, local experts and the community at large.

"The intent is that we all work together in this," said Vance.

"This is not a municipal document. It’s a Whistler document."

At the heart of the document lies the shared vision that "Whistler will be the premier mountain resort community."

Sixteen individual strategies have been developed to date to help Whistler realize that vision.

The strategies deal with resident housing, resident affordability, visitor experience, natural areas, economic, health and social, arts and culture, among others.

The strategies then outline potential action steps.

For example the resident housing strategy says that by 2020 Whistler will have a good mix of permanent and seasonal employees and long-time community members, making up a strong social fabric of the resort community.

Seventy-five per cent of Whistler employees live in the resort because "a sufficient and diverse supply of resident homes was secured as needed."

Some of the actions to achieve this are to:

• encourage the conversion of underused or undeveloped Tourist Accommodation units to employee housing;

• require rezone land provide a percentage of employee housing;

• expand non-cost hosing initiatives; and

• explore density transfers and bonuses.

Integral to the success of the CSP is that key organizations in Whistler agree to the shared vision and the steps to get there.

"This document is far broader that anything the municipality can do on its own," said Councillor Nick Davies.

"My view is that in the future this will become the touchstone document in terms of understanding our community."

Councillor Caroline Lamont, who spoke at a community Dialogue Café meeting on Tuesday night, said there were a few things missing in the draft form, namely an implementation strategy and a monitoring system.

She also expressed concern about the bulk of the 136-page document.

"It’s an inch thick – a ‘stump factor’ as we say in the business," she said.

There will also be a four-page summary document available.

The draft CSP and a feedback form are currently available on the municipality’s Web site at www.whistler.ca. It will soon be available at www.whistlerfuture.com.

Feedback is due by July 9.

There will be three open houses at the Spruce Grove field house.

They will take place on Wednesday, June 23 from 5 to 8 p.m., Thursday, June 24 from noon to 7 p.m., and Saturday, June 26 from noon to 5 p.m.

For information contact Mike Vance at 604-935-8118 or mvance@whistler.ca

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