Monday night’s marathon public hearings on two pension rezoning applications suggests pensions have gained a status similar to employee housing; that is, no one is opposed until one is proposed for their neighbourhood. The case for approving pensions and bed and breakfasts in established neighbourhoods is straight forward. Whistler is supposed to have roughly a 50:50 split of public and private beds when buildout is finally reached. At the moment — with several hotels, private condominium projects, employee housing projects and time-share projects still to be built — the ratio is closer to 60:40 in favour of private beds, so more pensions helps bring the ratio back toward 50:50. Pensions are also regulated by the municipality and, the argument goes, are under much stricter guidelines than club cabins or houses used by companies to house their employees. With the new guidelines the municipality has brought in regarding pensions the controls are even tighter. The track record of most pensions in town is also enviable, with most being an asset to their neighbourhood. However, as land has become scarce some people have seen pension or bed and breakfast rezoning as a way to increase their property value even further. The new municipal regulations say that pension zoning reverts back to single family zoning if a pension doesn’t begin operation on the property within a specific period of time, but the efforts of a few to increase their property value hasn’t helped the pension cause. There are not many lots left in Whistler that will allow a full-size, eight-bedroom pension, but there are some, and neighbours don’t like to see rezoning applications on them. There is no easy resolution to these conflicts. The character and concerns of the neighbourhood should be included in every prospective pension owner’s plans. But do single family homeowners have a right to expect there will never be any change in their neighbourhoods? The arguments can go back and forth for days, but it’s an issue better dealt with at the neighbourhood level than in a public hearing.

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