Council endorses flood control option for Tapley's 

Council briefs: Shipping containers banned, Remembrance Day ceremonies planned

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The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is moving forward with a plan to address flooding in the Tapley's neighbourhood.

At its Nov. 3 meeting, council endorsed creating a flood channel on the west side of the railway tracks that would allow flood waters to bypass the Tapley's neighbourhood.

"Water has naturally flowed on that course previously, at least on a couple of occasions, but this would establish a route that would be designed to take off the top amount of flood water and improve the situation for the neighbourhood," explained RMOW manager of environmental projects James Hallisey at the meeting.

The option was one of three presented at an open house in September.

"At the public open house, the first option... was widely supported. Very little support was expressed from the public for either options two or three," Hallisey said.

Option 2 proposed the construction of a flood protection berm to shield the neighbourhood, but it came with a high price tag and the removal "of a lot" of trees.

Option 3 — which involved filling the lower areas of properties close to the creek — was the least invasive and cheapest of the bunch, but provided the lowest level of flood protection.

RMOW staff is also proposing that the municipality undertake a broader screening study next year to get a better understanding of flooding in the valley.

Council also endorsed the lone flood protection option for Crabapple Creek, which will include raising the Valley Trail along a small portion of the creek and the construction of a small flood-deflection berm.

The work — expected to cost somewhere in the $250,000 range — will be factored into the RMOW's next round of budgeting, with construction expected to start sometime in 2016.

SHIPPING CONTAINERS BANNED IN RESIDENTIAL AREAS

In a five-to-two vote, council moved to ban shipping containers in residential areas.

Councillors Jen Ford and Jack Crompton voted against the motion.

"They can be made (to be) hidden, they can be made safe and they do offer an affordable, secure solution for homeowners," Ford said.

"Storage in this town is always an issue for homeowners, and that's really the position that I'm taking, is that it's a mistake to ban them outright. I'd rather approach this with design guidelines and with our existing bylaws."

Crompton said he couldn't support the bylaw for lack of clarity around how it will affect those who have legally installed shipping containers in their yards.

"Since people acted legally when they invested in the structures, I'd like to see us articulate how these people will be treated by the new bylaw," Crompton said. "So without that clarity I will also vote against."

After councillors Andree Janyk and John Grills spoke in favour of the ban, Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden had the last word in reiterating her support.

"They're ugly, they're a safety hazard, we've heard about a firefighter in the interior dying when one of these things blew up, I just wholly support (the ban)," she said. "I think if somebody can spend $2,000 or $3,000 on a shipping container they can take that money and build a shed."

While shipping containers are now banned in residential areas, council amended the bylaw so the containers will still be permitted in industrial zones.

REMEMBRANCE DAY CEREMONIES SET

The Whistler community and visitors are once again invited to remember Canada's veterans at the Remembrance Day ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 11, at the cenotaph on Village Gate Blvd.

The 2015 ceremony marks a significant year of remembrance, organizer Brian Buchholz told council.

"A century ago, in 1915, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. John McCrae penned his iconic Canadian battlefield poem, In 'Flanders Fields' after the death of one of his closest friends," Buchholz said.

"Without question, 'In Flanders Fields' is one of our country's most remembered and oft repeated pieces of literature. Across the century, 'In Flanders Fields' has been a beacon of remembrance for Canadians as we acknowledge the sacrifice and the loss of the more than 116,000 Canadians in war and in peacekeeping."

This year's ceremony will be largely unchanged from previous years, and will include the veterans' parade down Village Gate Blvd. to the cenotaph, songs from the Whistler Children's Chorus, wreath presentations and two minutes of silence.

Wilhelm-Morden thanked Buchholz for his ongoing efforts to organize the event.

"I've been attending for probably 30 years, and it's always remarkable to me just how the community really does come together, and has done right from the very beginning to mark this day," she said.

WHA PROJECT GETS ZONING AMENDMENT

A $5.5 million, 100-bed employee rental apartment building scheduled for Cheakamus Crossing is one step closer to fruition after Whistler council gave first and second readings to a related zoning amendment bylaw Nov. 3.

The Whistler Housing Authority-commissioned building is set be built on land currently owned by the RMOW. On Sept. 24, the WHA submitted a rezoning application for the lot, which is currently zoned Residential Multiple 65.

"The concept is to take that existing zoning and apply it to two lots," said RMOW planner Robert Brennan.

"(It) is simply reallocating siting area and densities, dwelling units (and) permitted uses between those two lots."

The application is consistent with current RMOW plans, policies and bylaws, Brennan noted.

A public hearing, as required as part of the process for bylaw consideration and adoption, is scheduled for November 17.

RMOW seeking public input on Alta Lake sewer project 

The RMOW wants public feedback on a proposed $2.4-million project that could finally connect the last 32 Alta Lake Road properties to the community's sewer system.

After reviewing alignment options and public comments, the municipality came back with what it deems "the most cost effective approach" to the longstanding issue: constructing a shallow bury sewer along Alta Lake Road. The RMOW says the project costs are $1 million less than other available options.

If residents agree, the municipality will provide a standard residential lift station to any property that requires it.

Homeowners will have to foot the cost of installation, estimated at $16,100 once fees and service charges are factored in, and will have 730 days to connect to the system.

Residents are asked to provide feedback by emailing engineers@whistler.ca or by calling 604-935-8190.

Alta Lake Road is the last area in Whistler not serviced by a sanitary sewer, and evidence that failing septic systems are leaking wastewater into adjacent ditches has raised the concern level at Municipal Hall.

For years, the RMOW has been calling on senior levels of government to provide funds for the infrastructure project, similar to the sewer project in Emerald, but nothing has ever worked out.

Several residents have spoken out about the pricey project, which has been greatly reduced from previous proposals, saying that septic tanks on most of the properties in the area are in perfect working condition.

"They've been testing for 15 years and they've found nothing," said Alta Lake Road resident Paul Matthews in an August interview. "Quite probably, the reason they never get the grant is that there's no problem."

While municipal staff has acknowledged there's little concrete evidence of environmental damage to the lake, there is worry over the potential for the aged systems to fail in the future.

"It is nonetheless important to proceed with this project, and provide modern sanitary sewers to the last remaining neighbourhood without them," read a RMOW report from the summer.

- By Brandon Barrett

MILLENNIUM PLACE RENAMED

With Y2K a distant memory, Whistler council voted Nov. 3 to update the name of the Maurice Young Millennium Place.

The building will henceforth be known as the Maury Young Arts Centre.

The renaming was supported by the Young family, the members of which, said Councillor Jack Crompton, were major supporters of the arts.

"I think they would be pleased with the recent developments in Whistler, with the Audain Museum moving here, and... with the direction the Whistler Arts Council is moving and with the building name change," Crompton said.

Young was an early investor in the Garibaldi Lift Company, as well as a sportsman and philanthropist.

The renaming will be factored into upcoming discussions around budget and the RMOW's Master Wayfinding Strategy.

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