Whistler is evolving — not always progressing — but constantly changing, and its citizens are becoming a little wiser after each development or proposed development comes forward. One of the lessons from the 19 Mile Creek employee housing project seems to be that all remaining development proposals will have to be accompanied by a video to be taken seriously. It appears rezoning applications in Whistler have caught up with the rock ’n’ roll industry: if your video doesn’t get air time on MuchMusic, or Cable 6, you may not last long on the charts. Videos aside, there were some Oscar-worthy performances at Monday’s public hearing: the woman who said she was embarrassed to take her real estate clients to Millar’s Pond because of the "ghetto army camp" the Millar’s Ridge employee housing project has become (least supporting actress); the man who said the developer should "get down and kiss our feet" (most original screenplay; fantasy division); and the concerned citizen who pointed out that a junior high school in his hometown was burned down by a student who wanted attention after a social housing project went up across the street from the school (best special effects-lifetime achievement award). Much more refreshing performances were turned in by some of the employees who have been given a chance to purchase employee housing and stake a claim in Whistler. The whole process was better served because a few residents of Millar’s Ridge — the ghetto army camp — stood up and put a face to "them." This is not to deny or belittle the legitimate concerns about the 19 Mile Creek project that were raised: its density, the increase in traffic it will generate and flood proofing measures. The Ministry of Environment will eventually put in writing its decision on whether adequate flood proofing measures can be achieved. The other issues will be up to council. And speaking of performances, after 15 months in office there is increasing pressure on this council to make some decisions on housing projects. Certainly, this council inherited a poorly timed proposal call for private sector employee housing projects. The new council didn’t want to make decisions on the projects until an independent assessment of affordable housing was done. That assessment was finished last summer and said the need for affordable employee housing was greater than expected. The report suggested a number of steps be taken, including creating some form of housing authority and immediately re-evaluating the projects received under the 1996 proposal call. That has been done. The Whistler Housing Authority, created last fall, has, under interim general manager Steve Bayly, followed through on the Whistler Valley Housing Society’s initiative with the Nordic housing project, initiated the purchase of Beaver Flats and Lorimer Road properties for housing projects, given council some advice on the 1996 private proposals and started tightening up the lottery process. Now it’s time for council to make some decisions on additional housing projects. They are obviously going to be tough decisions, but if council waits much longer they will have lost another summer construction window. By next winter this council will be into the final year of its mandate. The 19 Mile Creek project is due back before council on March 23. Council will either accept, reject or modify the proposal. Expect some modifications and the further evolution of 19 Mile Creek.


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