The municipality is negotiating with the Decigon group to acquire the Emerald Forest and transfer existing development rights to either the BC Rail lands or the Prospero lands. Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden announced the plan Monday while council initiated rezoning of all three properties in order to extend an April 7 deadline. All three property owners have applied to subdivide their parcels under an old bylaw which allowed subdivision into 20 acre parcels. The minimum parcel size for subdivision is now 100 acres, but the three properties were "grandfathered" under the old bylaw, to April 7 of this year. However, negotiations are unlikely to conclude before April 7 so council initiated rezoning which will extend the deadline another year. The rezoning will see the properties temporarily zoned RR3, then revert back to RR1. "Hopefully this will allow us to acquire this green jewel in the valley," Wilhelm-Morden said. The BC Rail lands are 534 acres on the west side of Alta and Nita Lakes. BC Rail has submitted both rezoning and subdivision applications for the land, each of which would total 29 lots. The difference is that under the subdivision application 24 of the 29 lots would be 20 acres each and the entire 534-acre parcel would be sold off. The rezoning application would see the 29 lots placed on the most suitable land and much of the remaining land dedicated to the municipality. The municipality has negotiated acquisition of much of the foreshore area, the Beaver Lake area and several riding trails in the BC Rail lands which will become municipal park. The Prospero site, owned by Bob Lee, is at the south end of Alpine Meadows, part of which borders on the Decigon lands. Larry Houghton of the Decigon group has had a meeting with the Prospero people and former UBC President David Strangway, who is considering a private university in Whistler. While Houghton has not been part of any university proposal for the site, he notes that Lee is a former chancellor of UBC, has been involved in developments on UBC lands and is a friend of Strangway’s. While Houghton stressed nothing has been resolved, he said he is intrigued by the possibilities the Prospero site may hold.

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