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?

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In the early 1990s Whistler was recognized as a superb mountain resort with tremendous potential, and development boomed as Marketplace and the surrounding subdivisions of Blackcomb, Nicklaus North and Millar's Pond received their approvals. Even though the municipality had committed to most of these developments by 1990, the community grew concerned about the amount and pace of development and the environmental trade-offs. The municipal decision-makers then attempted to address the growth issues through community consultation. This led to the revamping of the OCP only three years following the implementation of the 1989 OCP, with a focus of establishing a moratorium on uncommitted development, retaining the existing bed unit allocation and identifying and preserve significant environmental features.

It is clear in the introduction and in the policies of the OCP, that the growth management strategy was not intended to be a long term planning approach for the municipality:

" There is concern in Whistler with the changes that will occur as the community grows from its current capacity of 30,000 bed units to the current committed size of approximately 52,600 under current OCP and zoning designations. At present, there appears to be little need to further increase the ultimate size of Whistler, as the community already has considerable remaining approved capacity for all forms of development. It is imperative to make good use of the 'breathing room' afforded over the short term to comprehensively address questions about the long-range future of Whistler."

The December 1999 municipal bed unit inventory reports that there are now approximately 44,400 developed bed units (80 per cent of build out) and does not include projects occupied in 2000, including 19 Mile Creek, Riverside Campground, the Westin Resort, Nesters employee housing or developed single family homes.

The CDP document is consistent with the OCP as it identifies a key goal: "To plan for the long-term development of the resort and the region. The CDP provides the foundation for the longer term planning process for Whistler, by creating a several-year window of limited approvals and by initiating a resort and community monitoring system. This opportunity should be used to address long-term fundamental questions about the future of Whistler, such as: the ultimate size of the community and the resort; the regional relationship between the resort and other existing and potential development areas; long range transportation planning; and the continued provision of a range of housing types for residents and employees." To date there has been little discussion on Whistler's ultimate size or the prospect of regional expansion.

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