RMOW puts forum feedback to work 

Council briefs: lower fees for home-based studios; Coast Mountain Brewing receives endorsement

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - BUILDING BOOM The Resort Municipality of Whistler's building department saw an "unprecedented" increase in new applications in the first half of 2016 — mostly information requests.
  • file photo
  • BUILDING BOOM The Resort Municipality of Whistler's building department saw an "unprecedented" increase in new applications in the first half of 2016 — mostly information requests.

A community forum held at the Audain Art Museum last month drew more than 100 Whistlerites, thoughts and suggestions and all, and now the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is putting some of those ideas to work.

"Since we held the forum, staff have reviewed the input that we received at the various tables, and I am happy to report on some of the examples of progress to date in incorporating that input into action items," Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said at the July 26 council meeting.

The importance of housing was a hot topic at the forum, as well as the threat posed by online rental sites like Airbnb.

"People requested that the municipality and Whistler Housing Authority provide more incentives for homeowners to restrict rental space to residents," Wilhelm-Morden said. "Staff report that the current research study looking at the RMOW's tourist accommodation sector and short-term rental impacts will help to identify solutions."

There were numerous comments around transportation, including enhancing transit locally and throughout the corridor, creative suggestions related to new routes and fare systems and the importance of promoting the Valley Trail, the mayor said.

"The municipality is very active in this area with the Transportation Advisory Group, and all the input collected at the community forum was shared at their most recent meeting," she said. "We can expect to hear more about transportation solutions in the months ahead."

Comments around tourism were shared with the Economic Partnership Initiative committee, while water-use suggestions are being considered as the RMOW updates its current water-use bylaw over the next six months.

Other comments around things such as fire safety, energy use and daycare are being worked on as well.

"In some cases the input has been shared with our partners... in other cases the input will be considered in the upcoming 2017 corporate planning and budget process," the mayor said.


Local artists hoping to sell their work from home under municipal Temporary Use Permits (TUP) could be charged less than initially thought to do so.

At the July 26 council meeting, a bylaw amendment reducing the proposed fee from $750 to $600 was given first three readings.

Artists will be able to pay in annual instalments of $200, with a renewal fee of $250 if they wish to renew after the initial three years.

The reduction in fees was made possible after the initial "committee review" process — in which a committee would approve art to be sold through home-based studios — was replaced with a review by Arts Whistler instead.

Arts Whistler will now provide a written endorsement for artists or artisans which will be included in their TUP applications.

Without the committee review process, the cost to the RMOW to process each application is reduced, resulting in a lower application fee.

Arts Whistler is also planning to cover the costs for a small number of TUP applications so it can study the success of the program.

Through a federal grant, Arts Whistler is prepared to pay for the first two years of the TUP for 10 to 12 home-based studios.

"We hope that many actually come forward, it would be great," said Maureen Douglas, acting executive director for Arts Whistler. "We know it's new for a number of people... but if there are artists who have been thinking about it this, it is a great way to get involved."

The RMOW has received no applications for home-based studio TUPs to date.

An information sheet for interested artists is being prepared and will be available through Arts Whistler.


Whistler's newest brewery is one step closer to opening its doors.

At the July 26 meeting, council passed a resolution recommending the LCBC issue a brewery lounge endorsement for Coast Mountain Brewing (CMB), located at 1212 Alpha Lake Road in Function Junction.

The endorsement would allow CMB to conduct tours and sell beer and other non-liquor-related products from its location.

According to the brewery lounge application, hours of liquor service would be 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., the interior capacity would be 27 people, no minors are permitted unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, and food and non-alcoholic beverages must be available at reasonable prices.

According to a post on Coast Mountain's Facebook page, the brewery is aiming for a Labour Day Weekend opening.


At the halfway mark of 2016, activity at the municipal building department appears to be picking up.

Total intake of new files at the department over the first two quarters of 2016 was up 20 per cent over last year — 699 compared to 584 — according to a report presented to council on July 26.

"This is unprecedented and record-breaking for the building department," senior planner Melissa Laidlaw said in a report to council.

The second quarter alone saw 393 new files, with information requests (151) and building permits (111) making up the bulk of them.

The jump could be attributed to the RMOW's annual campaign advising people to get their permits in early, or it could just be the new normal, Laidlaw said.

"We'll know more at the end of the third and fourth quarters," she said.

The second and third quarters are typically the busiest for the building department in terms of new applications.

Meanwhile, the planning department saw a slight decrease in new applications in the first two quarters of the year, from 132 in 2015 to 110 in 2016 — a decrease of 17 per cent.

The first and second quarters are typically busiest for the planning department, and in the second quarter of 2016 the department received 65 new files.

Development permit applications (19) make up the most.

The report to council also includes a summary of active rezoning and development files.

Of 42 active files, 17 are under review, one is on hold and 24 are currently with the applicant to address municipal comments.



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