Should the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) council adopt its bylaws allowing sales from artists' home-based studios at its next council meeting on Jan. 26, artists will be permitted to pay the initial $750 fee in annual $250 installments over three years.
At its Jan. 12 meeting, council rescinded third reading of its Land Use Procedures Amendment Bylaw concerning Temporary Use Permits and amended it to add the new changes to fee structures.
Two other bylaws related to home-based studios that were up for adoption were postponed until the Jan. 26 meeting, where all three will be considered together.
"Should the three related bylaws be adopted in two weeks time, I will be asking staff to convene a meeting with the artists community to sort out the miscommunication that somehow occurred on this file," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden at the meeting.
"Unfortunately, at this table we've been rather hamstrung in that regard, because after a public hearing has occurred, we cannot speak to members of the public about the issue in either general or specific terms until after adoption has occurred.
"So that's kind of the plan of attack from here."
Council's plan to allow sales from home-based studios has proved contentious among some in the arts community, most notably for the associated fees.
Coun. Sue Maxwell said it would be interesting to see how the "experiment" works for both artists and their neighbours.
"I would hope that artists who are interested will participate, but there is no obligation for artists to participate if they don't want to," she said.
"If they have a business license from their home and they're creating art in their home and aren't selling it, then there's no reason that they need to do this if they feel that doesn't suit them."
While some artists have been outspoken against council's approach, Coun. Steve Anderson said he'd be interested to hear from the other side.
"I understand there's some 80 potential commercial artists that wish to take advantage of this, and we only really heard from the handful of them against it," he said.
"I'd really like to hear some positive feedback from the artists community."
Part of why Wilhelm-Morden called for a meeting with the arts community once the bylaws are passed was "so that we can have a free flow of information at that point, and so we can discuss the fact that this is meant to be — and I firmly believe that this is — a good news story for the artist community," she said.
"This is going to drive business ultimately to the artists with in-home studios... this is not meant to discriminate against artists."
The idea to allow sales from home-based studios came from recommendations in Whistler's Community Cultural Plan, which was developed in consultation with local stakeholders.
The fees are in place to recover staff time involved with processing the applications, including community consultation, site visits and administration costs.
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