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Whistler prepares for boundary expansion

SLRD to decide Monday if it supports Whistler’s plans

Whistler council is setting the stage in anticipation of provincial approval of a large boundary expansion.

At Monday’s meeting council asked staff to prepare the municipality’s Official Community Plan to reflect the proposed new municipal boundaries, despite ongoing concerns from the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and one large property owner in the north.

In addition, staff has been directed to prepare zoning bylaws for the 10,500 hectares of new land which could soon come under the municipal umbrella if the province gives its consent to the boundary expansion.

That step would effectively kill a development project in the northern section of the boundary expansion.

Developers of Green River Country Estates, near Wedge Mountain, have been fighting Whistler’s planned expansion to the north. They have been negotiating a residential development with the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District for more than two years and their subdivision application is now before the province.

But because the SLRD’s rural zoning permits much more development than Whistler’s rural zoning, the project may not be feasible if it’s swallowed into Whistler's boundaries.

"Our property could be dramatically impacted should your proposed boundary expansion north of Green Lake be granted," developer Peter Bruckmann, the president of 28165 Yukon Inc. wrote to the municipality.

"We have yet to be provided with an opportunity for any significant dialogue or consultation with you on this matter. Further, we have not received any specific information from you as to your intent in terms of zoning of D.L. 2247 (the Wedge land), should your proposed boundary expansion be successful."

Whistler council has not met with the developers. At Monday’s meeting, while council addressed concerns from one small landowner affected by the proposed expansion, they were silent regarding the concerns of the Wedge developers.

On several occasions Mayor Hugh O'Reilly has spoken out against the Wedge development at regional district meetings. Allowing it to move forward would be an exploitation of Whistler's assets he explained in a previous interview with Pique Newsmagazine.

"It’s not in our best interest to see that occur," he added.

The municipality negotiated the boundary expansion as part of the legacies for co-hosting the 2010 Olympic Games. The rationale behind it is to have more active stewardship over Whistler’s watersheds and to have control over the activities on the land surrounding the municipality.

At the same time, Bruckmann said there is a great deal of merit in his proposed development and he would like the chance to discuss that with the municipality.

"While we do not believe that your boundary application has any malice in its intent, we feel that staff and council do not have the benefit of all the information regarding our development proposal," Bruckmann wrote last month.

The formal boundary expansion request was submitted to the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women's Services in October. Staff told council they were hoping Cabinet would approve the expansion in March.

Meanwhile, Bruckmann will present his proposal to the SLRD board at Monday’s meeting and the regional district board, who have put off making a decision on Whistler's boundary expansion for two months, are expected to vote on it at the meeting.

Their decision will be forwarded to the province for Cabinet's consideration.