Whistler councillors put their own agendas forward 

New administrator Mike Furey welcomed during lengthy council meeting

Election season has begun... if the flurry of individual council requests to have items added to the next agenda is any indication.

With just four council meetings left in this term, Councillor Grant Lamont wants to talk about banning leaf blowers. Councillor Chris Quinlan wants to start the ball rolling on an application to get Whistler Olympic Plaza a permanent liquor license, and Councillor Tom Thomson wants to vote again on the Rainbow gas station rezoning that was defeated at the last council meeting in a 5 to 2 vote. On that issue just Quinlan and Councillor Ralph Forsyth voted in favour of a proposal where developers were looking to double the space of the convenience store in that rezoning.

All three requests were put forward as Notices of Motion to be added to the next agenda.

The unusual request to revisit the gas station decision raised Councillor Eckhard Zeidler's hackles and he looked to staff to clarify the legality of the motions, reading aloud from the Community Charter.

"This notice of motion (for the Rainbow rezoning)... is out of order in my view," said Zeidler as he looked to the manager of legislative services for guidance on the legalities.

He did not get the answer he was looking for and the notice of motion was duly noted for the next meeting.

Zeidler then took issue with the format of the meeting after Mayor Ken Melamed mistakenly called for votes on all of the notices, which is not the procedure.

As Zeidler explained his objections, the mayor interrupted to apologize. He continued to speak although Zeidler said he wasn't finished with his statement.

The councillor then slammed down his laptop screen and pushed his chair away from the council table in anger. This was at the end of a lengthy four-hour meeting in which some of the council members appeared visibly tired.

Through it all the new municipal administrator Mike Furey looked on in his first meeting at his new job at the helm of the organization. The mayor officially welcomed him to Whistler earlier on in the meeting.

About one hour of the meeting was consumed with concerns from Fitszimmons Road South homeowners who spoke out against a move to open the gates allowing public access to the berm on their backyard property line.

That direction also came from a prior Notice of Motion made by Councillor Grant Lamont. Council supported his request to begin the process of opening up the berm for public walking and cycling from Lost Lake Park through to Spruce Grove Park.

After listening to the concerns from residents over the safety and privacy, among other things, council promptly squashed plans to open the berm.

Lamont explained to the crowd that he was concerned about safety on the roads in White Gold, and that's what prompted his motion.

"I was digging the puck out of the corner to find a solution to the greater good," he said,

Dozens of residents left the council meeting relieved that the issue was put to rest. There has never been public access on that berm as part of the deal with a previous council.

As the sun sets on this council's term in office, the annual meeting of the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention will be taking place in Vancouver next week, with Whistler represented.

Delegates from across the province will be gathering to discuss things like libraries, policing costs, BC Hydro Smart Metering and infrastructure sustainability.





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