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Whistler’s OCP gets provincial approval

Province commits to work with First Nations and Whistler in future



The province has approved Whistler's updated Official Community Plan, despite the objections from neighbouring First Nations.

After four months at the province, the OCP was approved by Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Bill Bennett, and announced in a press release Monday night.

It is the last step needed before council can officially adopt the OCP bylaws and make the new updated plan law.

Whistler's Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said she was glad to have the plan get the provincial approval.

"(I'm) really happy that one's put to bed," she said.

"Staff and the community all worked diligently getting this new (plan) in place. It's good this chapter is closed.

"Completing the official community plan was one of the key deliverables for this council and we are incredibly pleased that it has been approved by the Province.

"An OCP is one of the most important plans for a municipality and this updated plan comes at a critical time in Whistler’s history with resort-wide discussions underway for how we move forward from this point. The OCP is a very important guiding document in this process.

"We have worked hard to engage the First Nations on the development of the OCP and look forward to continuing to work in partnership."

Just last week, Wilhelm-Morden expressed her concerns at a community meeting that the OCP would be stuck in limbo in the midst of a provincial election. The province left its decision down to the wire with the writ for the election to be dropped today (April 16).

As for First Nations, Wilhelm-Morden said it remains to be seen if there is a challenge to the OCP. Her expectation is that there will not be a legal challenge and the door is open for First Nations opportunities in Whistler.

The provincial press release states: "The Province is prepared to engage both the municipality and local First Nations in future discussions on land use and economic development opportunities."

Whistler's updated plan was three years in the making. Talks between Whistler and Squamish and Lil'wat First Nations broke down last year over the Nations' concerns on the "hard cap" on future development and the limits to growth with the Resort Municipality of Whistler, particularly as it relates to Crown lands.

The plan was sent to the province in December amid threats of a First Nations' legal challenge.


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