March 09, 2001 Features & Images » Feature Story

A time to plan 

Whistler's official community plan and comprehensive development plan were designed to serve the town in the 1990s, but do they meet present and future needs?

"Look there go my people, I must find out where they are going so I may lead them"


By Caroline Lamont

Lamont Barratt Planning and Design

In the 1990s Whistler leapt onto the international stage with little warning, and has become one of world's premier four season destination resorts. There are many reasons for Whistler's success, including the committed community and the incredible natural amenities. But all of these would not have been discovered if it wasn't for long range land use planning.

A certain group of visionary and entrepreneurial spirits developed and followed a plan that created Whistler Village, resulting in this tourist town becoming a poster child for great planning and designing. The village is charming, functional and a retailer's dream, while the surrounding lands provided complementary resort and community amenities.

These plans went beyond site planning and design and limited the amount of growth to ensure that development was responsible and appropriate. From the 1970s through to the early 1990s the village master plans and the various versions of the Official Community Plan identified what the resort and community needed to thrive, then set an achievable, albeit ambitious, course of action.

In the 25 years following the Resort Municipality of Whistler's incorporation, the master plans for the village have come close to build-out. Recently, the municipality, together with business, has been further updating and enhancing the original master plan concepts with the Village Enhancement Project.

The long range planning for the entire resort community relies on the 1994 Official Community Plan (OCP) and 1994 Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP), together with the more recent Vision 2002 document. The OCP sets detailed policies regarding land use, development, servicing and protection of the natural environment, while the lesser known CDP contains council's policy statement describing the overall strategy for the development and management of the community and the resort.

In the past few years the municipality has further collected ideas and thoughts from the community and developed the Vision 2002 document. The Vision is what and whom Whistler wants to be, and takes into consideration the community's values and priorities.

Developing a long range strategy for Whistler is not a simple task as this town has always been a hotbed for land use controversy. It is time to wonder if the existing OCP and the CDP were intended and are able to adequately serve the community and the resort in the long term (10-plus years) given the rapidly changing character and needs of Whistler.

The current OCP continues the policy intent of its predecessor, the 1989 Official Community Plan, whereby growth management policies were developed directing growth to fulfill resort and community needs. The key objective of the 1989 OCP was the development of amenities that would ensure the year round success of the resort. Two golf courses and a tennis resort were developed through these policies.

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