Council Briefs 

FWAC calls for Millar/Alpha Creek wetland protection

FWAC calls for Millar/Alpha Creek wetland protection

The Forest and Wildland Advisory Committee is taking steps to protect one of the largest wetlands in the valley.

In a recommendation to council FWAC called for the Alpha Creek and Millar Creek wetlands to remain free from development.

"It’s really a gem," said Councillor Ken Melamed who was one of the FWAC members to go on a tour of the wetlands in June.

Melamed said the wetlands in the south end of town are the second largest after the wetlands at the River of Golden Dreams and are arguably just as important.

The wetlands, which are privately owned, are bordered by Function Junction in the south, Highway 99 on the east, the BC Rail line on the west and the Alta Lake Road to the north.

Melamed said council should make every effort to protect the wetlands in their entirety.

In addition to being a broad marsh and creek, the wetlands also include several ridges which restrict drainage and hold moisture, influencing the forest structure.

Even some sections of the wetlands that were logged in the early 1900s have glades that have come back to life and are home to many species.

In May FWAC made a general recommendation to council calling for them to exercise caution in considering development on the site for a number of reasons including wildfire protection – the wetlands act as a natural firebreak – old growth forest values and the importance of the area as a cross valley habitat corridor.

They were also concerned that the generic 15 metre setback between development and the wetlands would not provide enough protection.

Since the FWAC field trip the recommendation became a lot stronger.

Melamed said FWAC members spent many hours debating even if they should make a comment on the wetlands in case the group was stepping out of its mandate by commenting on a non-forest industry development site.

In the end the consensus was that they should provide a recommendation based on the forest values and the land and habitat, thus staying within their mandate.

Whistler reviews wildfire risk

Council gave the green light Monday for a new study which will assess Whistler’s wildfire risks and result in a community protection plan.

The $60,000 study will see a risk assessment of the wildfire potential in Whistler and then look at the possibilities of establishing fuel breaks, both natural and manmade.

Fire Chief Bruce Hall explained that the risk assessment is one of the strategies identified in the FireSmart program.

He said the assessment process would allow the resort to provide education and communication to residents on where and how significant the risks are within the community.

The municipality will apply for funding of up to $15,000 from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities to go towards the risk assessment study.

More funding for pump upgrades

Upgrades to the community pump station in the day skier parking lots are going to be more expensive than originally planned.

On Monday council authorized $120,000 in increased funding for upgrades to the pump station, which supplies the Blackcomb Benchlands with water from the 21-Mile Creek sources as well as the four community wells.

Special Projects Engineer James Hallisey explained that several hurdles have come up since the project got underway.

As contractors were installing a new roof on the pump station they discovered that the soffit underneath was rotten and had to be replaced.

Next, a significant amount of underground piping had to be replaced because it wasn’t in the proper place.

Finally Hallisey said now that an investigation has confirmed that there is good groundwater 90-feet underneath the parking lots, the pump station needs an upgraded electrical drive to accommodate the increase in groundwater flows.

He said that doing the upgrades now would represent roughly $20,000 in savings.

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