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SLRD takes Soo Valley off development table

The issue of development on the fringe of the boundary of Whistler has been a concern for quite some time. Ken Melamed

What role will a sub-regional planning study play in light of the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS)?

That was the question on many politicians’ minds at the Aug. 28 board meeting of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District during discussions of the impending Lil’wat-Pemberton-Area C sub-regional panning study.

Paul Edgington, SLRD administrator, pointed out that the study would contemplate a variety of land use issues including "five-, 10-, 20-year scenarios" that "include things like proposed development to the Soo Valley"

That prompted a response from Whistler’s mayor.

"I thought there was agreement that the Soo Valley was not a candidate for development," suggested Ken Melamed. "I would like to hear it on the record."

Melamed expressed the concern that mention of the Soo Valley within the document would create an expectation of future development.

"There is nothing in the SLRD OCPs that would contemplate development in the Soo Valley," said Edgington. "There are people who own properties in there that are desirous of development. We know that from one sector of the public there will be interest in developing something. Staff recommends that Whistler be involved in this study."

Steve Olmstead, SLRD planner, pointed out that development of the Soo Valley had been proposed in one form or another for quite some time and did not appear to be going away. He added that the primary focus of the sub-regional planning study would be development issues in the greater Pemberton area.

"The issue of development on the fringe of the boundary of Whistler has been a concern for quite some time," said Melamed. "This land has environmentally sensitive areas."

Melamed went on to argue that the inclusion of the Soo Valley as a potential area for development was in opposition to the principles of the regional growth strategy. He further suggested that if the study was to identify areas appropriate for development and the board agreed that the Soo Valley was not appropriate, then the references needed to be removed.

His argument proved persuasive, with the board agreeing to delete all development references to the area.

The terms of reference for the study will be presented next month. The final report is due at the end of Feb. 2007.