A project destined to become one of Whistler's most exclusive addresses has become Whistler's most debated development.
Sunridge Plateau, 35 luxury, ski in, ski out lots reaching 750 metres up Whistler Mountain, is in the process of being blasted and scraped out of the trees and rock above Brio's Panorama Ridge. But as the development — with lots ranging in price from $275,000 to a cool million — sell, the scope of the project has raised the ire of some of its neighbours.
Panorama Ridge resident Linda McGaw traded letters with the developer, local newspapers and Whistler council. Now, McGaw says the problems of trucks travelling through the neighbourhood to make a u-turn in the Panorama Ridge cul-de-sac have been resolved.
Developer Mark Bulietta of the Taina Group says the construction of Sunridge Plateau is right on track.
"I would expect a majority of the work to be complete by November," says Bulietta.
But Don Goodall, a Whistler resident since 1978, says all's not well in the development capital of North America — Whistler.
"I think what the thing is that it's not so much the development per se, that's inevitable with a popular spot. It's the size and scope of development that's the problem."
Goodall, who lives on Panorama Ridge, across the street and two houses up from the Sunridge Plateau entrance, says the scope of the project was hard to visualize until the blasting started and the 100 dump truck-a-day parade kicked off. He is worried about possible damage to fish habitat in Crabapple Creek, the most important spawning area for Alta Lake's Rainbow Trout and the need, if any, for $500,000 lots in Whistler. While photographing an excavator working near Crabapple Creek, Goodall says he was verbally and physically threatened by one of the contractors on site.
"When the noisy development in your neighbourhood is potentially damaging streams, then people have got to stand up," he says. "The people who live here have been forgotten and we've been trampled over by money, these greedy f---s and the politicians that come along with it."
Goodall says he has checked with the conservation officers and they say there is nothing they can do as all the correct permits have been acquired from the Ministry of Environment.
Goodall says it is time to stop development approvals and check with Whistler's residents to see if the frenetic pace of development is what people who live here want.
According to Bulietta, Taina has done everything a developer can do to deal with any concerns the local residents have, adding Taina already had municipal approval for 40 townhouses on the Sunridge land, but opted for the lower density single family and duplex plans now underway.
"We should have built those 40 units a number of years ago, but that kind of development was not what we were looking for in the neighbourhood," Bulietta says. "That would have increased traffic flows considerably down the road."
Taina received the rights to develop Sunridge when it agreed to build the affordable housing Suncrest development.
Cam Watson, who lives across the street from Sunridge Plateau, says the development is big, dirty and loud, but that's to be expected.
"The developer has done a number of things to make sure concerns raised by local residents are met," Watson says, adding a three metre tree buffer was left between Panorama Ridge and the new road being built into the development and a water truck regularly wets down Panorama Ridge in an attempt to keep the dust down.
Watson adds the expensive lots are increasing the value of other property with every sale.
"I don't think anyone in the neighbourhood anticipated this much of a problem, but as the problems come up they are going to have to be dealt with."
Bulietta agrees, saying any concerns raised by local residents will be dealt with as they come up.
"We think we are putting in a responsible development here," he says. "We could have squeezed 50 lots in here with little houses on them and blown down every tree on this part of the mountain, but that's not what we wanted."