Council preview for Tuesday, Sept. 17 

First look: Private-developer employee-housing projects on the agenda

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO BY BRADEN DUPUIS
  • File photo by Braden Dupuis

Here's a quick look at what to expect at Tuesday's council meeting, kicking off at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 17 at the Maury Young Arts Centre.

PRIVATE DEVELOPER EMPLOYEE HOUSING

Council will hear reports on three private-developer employee-housing projects at the Sept. 17 meeting, one of which is already drawing opposition from neighbours.

5298 ALTA LAKE ROAD

The project at 5298 Alta Lake Road—which council will consider authorizing further review of on Sept. 17—was originally submitted under the RMOW's private developer employee housing guidelines, but withdrawn before it came to council.

With those guidelines updated in March to allow for limited amounts of new, unrestricted marketing housing, the project was resubmitted with a new concept: 15 new three-bedroom employee-housing-restricted townhomes and 22 three-bedroom market tourist accommodation townhomes.

The applicant is Squamish-based Empire Club Development Corp., the principals of which are former Whistler Housing Authority chair Michael Hutchison, Jon Dietrich and Biagio Cusano.

The land—located on the west side of Nita Lake—is currently valued at $10.6 million, and was purchased by its new owners in January 2018.

A report to council includes a view of the site's historical context courtesy of the Whistler Museum and Archives—the lot was once owned by local sawmill owners Alf and Bessie Gebhart, who constructed the cabin that still stands there today in the mid '40s.

In the mid '60s, Charles Hillman purchased the property, and the cabin became known as the first incarnation of Toad Hall.

Both museum and RMOW staff feel that "the dual narratives of early industry intersecting with early local ski counter culture make this property compelling from a historical perspective," the report to council reads.

As part of its application, Empire proposes parkland dedication on the site, as well as restoration of the existing cabin and relocation to the park to create a historical landmark.

Dedication of a riparian/tree preservation area along the lake foreshore and rail line, as well as dedication of a future employee housing parcel adjacent the existing Nita Lake Resident Housing are also included in the proposal.

The project has already drawn the attention of neighbours, with 17 letters of opposition included in the Sept. 17 council package.

A public information meeting will be held before rezoning bylaws are brought to council.

A public hearing would also be part of the process.

RAINBOW RIDGE RETURNS

The project at 8975 Highway 99 in Rainbow is also returning in a new form.

An application brought forward by Pacific Western Management proposes 36 price-restricted employee townhomes and 24 market townhomes on the site—a drastic change from the 99 apartments and 48 dorm beds in the project's first iteration.

The project has also changed from 100-per-cent rental to 100-per-cent ownership, and the 36 two- and three-bedroom price-restricted units will be sold "at a price point established in accordance with Whistler Housing Authority guidelines," according to a report to council.

The proposal includes walking trails, a dog run, a picnic area, connections to local trails and dedication of a community park, as well as provision of a public parking lot with 24 to 30 stalls for trailhead access.

RMOW staff note that considerations for the project include its single point of access through an existing strata road (which will likely require road and utility infrastructure upgrades) as well as the mix of market and employee units, and their sales prices.

The applicant says the new proposal will generate less traffic than the original, and the new traffic generated is "well within acceptable capacity thresholds for the existing Rainbow road network."

The new proposal also avoids any new connection to Black Bear Ridge.

Staff is seeking council's authorization to request more info, including an updated traffic study, conceptual building design, estimated sales price per unit and more.

A public info meeting and public hearing would be included in the process.

CLOUDBURST DRIVE

A rezoning proposal by Whistler Sport Legacies (WSL) for employee housing at 1315 and 1345 Cloudburst Drive in Cheakamus is also coming to council for first and second readings on Sept. 17.

At 1315 Cloudburst the zoning amendment will add employee housing to the permitted uses on site, increase the maximum permitted gross floor area from 2,500 square metres to 3,900 square meters, and restrict non-employee housing uses to 2,500 square metres of gross floor area.

At 1345, it will add employee housing to the list of permitted uses.

The application proposes 57 apartments, 20 of which (eight one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom) would be price-restricted employee housing.

Proposed rents are $1,200 per month for a one-bedroom (about 438 square feet) and $2,200 for two-bedroom units (660 square feet).

The remaining units would be used for WSL seasonal staff and shorter-term athlete and coach accommodation.

A housing agreement placed on title at 1345 will include a right of first refusal to fulltime daycare workers and essential services employees as defined by the province.

Find the full council package at https://www.whistler.ca/municipal-gov/council/meeting-agendas-and-minutes.

Pick up Thursday's Pique for more from council.

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