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Valley Drive residents want green buffer

30 people attend public hearing on First Nations’ residential development

Residents from Valley Drive and Chalet Drive in Alpine Meadows joined forces during Monday night’s council meeting to speak about their concerns with the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations’ proposed Alpine North residential development.

Seven people from the neighbourhood walked up to the podium during the public hearing to ask that a green buffer be built between their homes and the new residential development.

“We have all been really concerned about development adjacent to our properties,” said Paula Lloyd.

“I would really like to see some reassurances that the end of the street is going to become some green space and some buffer zone and not a highway. I would be remiss if I did not share our nervousness about the whole affair.”

Added Don MacKenzie: “When we bought the land there (on Valley Drive), everyone said they would never touch the Crown land next door. Now we understand that Crown land does not mean land that will never be touched. Crown land is a negotiating tool… We just want to find out where we are going. That is our concern.”

Residents are afraid that an access road to the Alpine North neighbourhood will be built through the forest adjacent to their homes.

Brent Murdoch, architect and planner for the legacy lands proposal, confirmed on Tuesday, Sept. 16 that developers have no plans to touch that green space buffer between Alpine Meadows and the proposed residential development.

“There has always been a sensitivity with Valley Drive residents of development impinging on what they feel is their cozy corner of Whistler,” said Murdoch.

“We are sensitive to it and thus the access (to the Alpine North neighbourhood) was always known to be coming up from Rainbow and not from Alpine North.”

The First Nations’ residential development would see 48 detached houses and duplexes, as well as 42 townhouses, built on the Alpine North property and an adjacent slice of land, which the nations will soon acquire from the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

As part of the land transfer, the old growth forest at the north end of the Alpine North site will be turned into parkland. The RMOW also will acquire the Alta Vista BCBC lands, formerly the Capilano Highways works yard.

The Alpine North neighbourhood would sit directly above the Rainbow neighbourhood, currently under construction. Alpine North would be accessed through the Rainbow highway intersection and the public road that will run through Rainbow.

Several members of the community other than the Valley Drive residents also spoke during the public hearing, including Richard Wyne from Spring Creek who said a green space should be included between the Alpine North development and the adjacent Rainbow development.

“As we look at it, we could have 20 or 30 metres of green space in that area,” suggested Wyne.

“I think it would reduce the amount of sprawl visually.”

Michael Hutchison from Whistler Cay also commended the proposal, saying: “as a taxpayer, I am very grateful for what was done.”

Council deferred third reading of bylaws for the project until a later meeting.

The Alpine North development is part of the First Nations’ Legacy Land Agreement with the province, involving eight parcels of land totalling 300 acres. The land comes as part of the agreement to host some of the 2010 Olympics on Squamish and Lil’wat traditional territory.

Revenue from developing these lands is expected to offset the cost to run the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler.