Nita Lake Lodge approved, writ filed 

Haibeck wants to start building this fall, Lambert taking RMOW to court

A Whistler homeowner has filed a lawsuit against the municipality over the Nita Lake Lodge development project, which was given final approval by council Monday.

"We served a writ last Friday on the municipality," Keith Lambert said on Tuesday night, calling from Australia where he is currently travelling.

He would not comment further on the writ at this time or on council’s final approval of the project.

For developer John Haibeck it was a bittersweet moment Monday evening when council adopted the zoning bylaws for the Nita Lake Lodge development project.

After more than two years of trying he finally had approval to build a four-storey lodge and train station on the south shores of Nita Lake but a potential lawsuit means the fate of his project still hangs in the balance.

"I’m confident that the municipality has done all the right things and I’m confident that there’s probably even more community support because I think this is very self-serving of one resident," said Haibeck.

Lambert, who owns the multi-million dollar Chateau du Lac on the north shores of Nita Lake, filed the writ of summons in the Supreme Court of British Columbia Oct. 3.

The writ briefly outlines six claims. Chief among those claims is a declaration that two zoning bylaws for the Nita Lake project are unlawful and contravene the Local Government Act.

"It means it offends the Local Government Act," explained Michael Vaughan, a municipal lawyer with the Vancouver firm of Owen Bird, who is not involved in the case.

"The two areas where bylaws would typically offend the Local Government Act either would be that it exceeded council’s jurisdiction... or that they had not followed the proper procedure."

Thought the writ does not highlight Lambert’s argument, he explained his position in an earlier interview with Pique Newsmagazine .

The crux of his argument at that time was that the municipality rezoned the land for the Nita Lake Lodge project, which could not support a hotel under the old zoning, because the developer was offering generous community amenities. To put it simply, the municipality sold its zoning in exchange for benefits.

"This is common practice and it’s common practice not only in Whistler but in other places. But there’s strong case law evidence that says it’s unlawful and that’s not in doubt," said Lambert in the earlier interview.

Vaughan said while blatantly selling zoning is against the law, there are tools in the Local Government Act for municipalities to get community amenities as part of development packages.


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