Bed cap still leaves lots of room 

More than 8,000 beds still to be developed

A theme that has been repeated often in recent years is that Whistler is quickly reaching its development cap - that with the addition of Cheakamus Crossing, Rainbow, Fitzsimmons Walk and Nita Lake neighbourhoods the resort is more or less "finished."

However, as was revealed at an Official Community Plan (OCP) workshop for council two weeks ago, there are still a lot of beds to be built.

Including employee-restricted bed units, Whistler's development cap is estimated at 61,234 bed units, of which 53,038 have been built. That's just over 86 per cent of our self-imposed limit. Some 8,196 bed units across Whistler are still to be developed, which could equal an additional 2,000 dwellings. That number includes 327 vacant single-family lots.

Mike Kirkegaard, manager of resort planning for the Resort Municipality of Whistler, stresses that bed units are an approximate measurement based on the number of lots, the buildable space on those lots and the zoning.

The bed unit figure doesn't include commercial or industrial space, which may include caretaker suites.

Kirkegaard explained that a review of bed units was necessary as Whistler goes through the process of updating its OCP.

"Fundamental to the whole OCP is how we approach future growth and development," he said.

"(During the last OCP process) in 1993, the community said we think we have enough approved capacity at this point in time, and that in the future we would only really consider additional rezonings if there were extraordinary circumstances and  an exceptional community benefit.

"Over the years there have been rezonings to add to our accommodation capacity, but most of that was really just to achieve resident housing and meet our target which was set out in Whistler 2020, and that's the goal of housing 75 per cent of our workers in the community."

The bed unit cap, which the RMOW uses to measure accommodation capacity and associated servicing and facilities requirements, has been extended several times over the years but only a handful of times for market housing. For example, in 1999 the RMOW gave 476 bed units to Intrawest as part of the deal to acquire the Emerald Forest. Those bed units were rolled into the Four Seasons Resort.

The Rainbow development, which is primarily employee housing, was granted 208 market units to help fund the construction of resident-restricted beds.

The Squamish and Lil'wat First Nations development at Baxter Creek, located above Rainbow, was allocated bed units from the existing market capacity on Government of B.C. Crown land, as well as proposed zoning changes to private lands that resulted in fewer market bed units being developed.

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