Despite Whistlers concerns the province has given preliminary approval for a residential subdivision on the edge of the towns northern boundaries.
The development will see at least 64 single family homes built close to Wedge Mountain on the east side of Highway 99. This development is allowed under the current zoning on the land, which lies in Area C within the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District. The resort municipality does not control development on this land.
"The present application deals with 64 (homes) and thats still the subject of discussions with the SLRD as to what the ultimate yield would be," said David Ehrhardt, speaking on behalf of the developer of the Green River Country Estates, a private landowner based out of the Bahamas. "There would be at least 64 though."
The Ministry of Transportation issued the preliminary subdivision approval in July.
The approval triggered the roadwork on Highway 99 for a new intersection into the subdivision. The highway work for this year is now complete.
Additional work is also underway within the site itself, which includes the roads winding through the subdivision, a new bridge over Green River and one over the rail tracks. Consultation work has been done with WORCA to ensure key mountain biking trails such as Comfortably Numb and the Wedge hiking trail are still accessible to the public.
The developer hopes to have the lots up for sale by the spring.
Unlike Whistler the regional district does not control the finer forms of the development, such as the size of the homes.
"The zoning presumably could allow, if they chose a totally up-market development," said Steven Olmstead, manager of planning and development at the regional district. "They could put covenants on that said 5,000 (square feet) was a minimum and if they feel they can find 60 buyers who all want to put 7,500 or 10,000 square foot, multi-million dollar homes, they could do that I guess."
The developers vision, however, is to build a community which offers an alternative to Whistler both in terms of a more affordable price and its location in the heart of the forest between Whistler and Pemberton.
"I think that the people that tend to build the mega homes do that because there is a certain cachet in where and what they build and thats not the intention of this development," said Ehrhardt.
The municipality, however, is not pleased to see what it calls "fringe development" happening on its doorstep.
"Our concern is now youve got people living outside our boundaries that are using our facilities but theyre not contributing (in taxes)," said Mayor Hugh OReilly, speaking from Hawaii, where he is now working and living.
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