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Whistler Blackcomb housing building headed for third reading

Council briefs: Winter transit service to start Dec. 7
Whistler council watches a presentation at the Dec. 3 meeting. Photo by Braden Dupuis

A 240-bed Whistler Blackcomb (WB) staff housing building on Glacier Lane is heading for third reading following a public hearing on Dec. 3.

Two people spoke in favour of the rezoning at the public hearing—both employees of WB—while one resident who lives near the staff housing site submitted a letter of opposition via their lawyer.

The letter, which doesn't include the homeowner's name or address, cites concerns with increased traffic congestion, impact on views and scenery, and environmental damage due to tree clearing on the site.

Though it's not legally mandated that all public hearing submissions have an address, it is required under the Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) council procedure bylaw.

"Technically council is allowed to consider that letter, but the address of each person that provides a submission is and can be considered relevant to your deliberation and your consideration," said general manager of corporate and community services Ted Battiston.

The proposed building is six storeys tall with 66, two-bedroom units each about 40 square metres in size. The units include a shared kitchen and bathroom, and would be targeted toward WB's first-year and returning seasonal employees (four per unit).

The rezoning is to increase the floor space ratio, site coverage and building height, as well as add a parking variance and another variance for a small portion of the building encroaching into a 7.6-metre setback.

Prior to third reading, Vail Resorts must provide an agreement on rental rates, resolution of employee services space allocation, determination of appropriate transit service levels at peak hours, and resolution of the number of car-share vehicles provided—issues that it is committed to working on with RMOW staff, said WB's director of community and government relations Sarah McCullough at the public hearing.

"Requests like a substantial transit contribution proposed by staff and limits on rental rates proposed could have impacts to the project economics, which we continue to evaluate," McCullough said, adding that the mountain operator recognizes the importance of transit and other alternatives to car ownership for employees living on the property.

"[We] propose a flexible commitment to ensure continued transit service to Glacier [Lane], or other alternatives, which could be provided by WB, or the owners of the buildings in the Glacier complex based on demands over time," she said.

"We are committed to working with RMOW staff through these outstanding issues and look forward to bringing this project forward for your approval and to help fulfil the housing needs of our community."

With the letter of opposition, third reading was deferred to a future meeting.

As he did for first and second readings on Nov. 19, Councillor Arthur De Jong, WB's mountain planning and environmental resource manager, recused himself, citing a "perception of bias."