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Public survey launches for Northlands rezoning

Virtual open house showcases Whistlerites’ ‘enthusiasm’ for the project
Northlands aerial 2
An aerial view of the Northlands site north of Whistler Village.

The public input period for an enhanced rezoning north of Whistler Village is now underway, and Whistlerites are already floating some big ideas for the land.

More than 120 people tuned in for a virtual open house on June 17, and an online survey is now live at whistler.ca/northlands.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm and lots of ideas about what it could be, and I heard a lot about recreation, I heard a lot about housing, I heard a lot about connection to the village,” said Mayor Jack Crompton of the open house. “There is a wide range of opinions and I think it’s going to be a fascinating process for our community to go through.”

The Northlands development—the largest remaining undeveloped piece of land in Whistler’s core village area, comprised of 4500 Northlands Blvd., 4711 Settebello Dr., and 4700 Blackcomb Way—represents “the last big piece of the village,” Crompton said.

“So that connection to the existing village is really important in my view, and I am hopeful that we can come up with a way to connect the existing village to what’s eventually built there,” he said.

As for the specifics of what might eventually be built there, “I think it will become clearer as it moves forward,” Crompton said.

“For me it felt very high level, which is appropriate when you’re starting a process like this. Some people’s ideas about what should finally sit on that site are clearer than others. I personally enjoyed the rooms I got to sit in and hear people share their visions for the final development.”

The site’s current zoning allows for a nine-storey hotel with a Phase 2 rental pool covenant, along with density for indoor recreation and employee housing, and the lands are identified as being in the Whistler Village Core Commercial Area in Whistler’s Official Community Plan, which allows for visitor and residential accommodation as well as commercial, recreational and institutional uses.

A restrictive covenant on title provides for a maximum of 837 bed units on the primary site, while a secondary lot has 48 bed units committed for employee housing.

The six hectares or so of land located at 4700 Blackcomb Way (bordering Fitzsimmons Creek) will remain as a conservation zone, according to proponents Beedie Living.

Attendees at the open house floated questions and ideas about housing, recreation, a “super innovative greenhouse” or community gardens, and added daycare capacity.

In the view of attendee Ben Thomas, the site is perfectly situated for an idea he’s calling the Whistler Lifestyle Centre—an inclusive and accessible place where locals, second homeowners and tourists alike can recreate and socialize.

Thomas envisions the centre as a weather-independent, multi-use recreation facility operating as a non-profit and run by a board of directors with representation from Whistler’s biggest recreation clubs.

It would offer free meeting space for community groups, and serve as a “think tank and headquarters for developing and encouraging betterment, inclusion and community interaction through recreation and socialization,” according to Thomas.

“The real key here is the benefit that can come [with the rezoning], and I think this benefit and this community amenity can tick every single box that was mentioned at the open house,” he said.

“More ideas are obviously going to come, and it’s just really such an inspirational project and a great opportunity for the community of Whistler.”

Asked about Thomas’ proposal, Crompton said the process hasn’t reached “that level of specificity” yet.

“The further we go in this process, the more those ideas will start to refine each other and we’ll come up with the final plan,” he said.

“The goal right now at the beginning is to hear as many voices as we possibly can … we don’t want to reject any ideas at this point, because we’re very much in the blue sky phase of the process.”

Outcomes of the first round of public engagement, and details of next steps, will be shared at a council meeting later this summer, with the entire rezoning targeted for completion in September 2022.

Watch a video of the open house and take the survey at whistler.ca/northlands