editorial 

Process, education in the municipal system Whistler is one of the most planned towns anywhere and has enjoyed a great deal of success because, on the whole, it has been well planned. One need only look at some of the original concepts for the village to see what a mess it could have been. However, Monday’s session at the committee of the whole meeting presented an example of why people can get frustrated with so-called planning. Here’s the situation: Whistler Town Plaza, the first three new buildings you come to as you cross the pedestrian overpass from the North Shore Credit Union to Village North, is nearing completion. The square in the middle of the three buildings is not yet finished but a little imagination tells you it’s going to be one of the focal points of Village North — much like Village Square in the original village. Three restaurants border the square: Caramba and Plaza Bistro have opened; the new Zeuski’s will open next month. All three will have patios. On Monday United Properties Ltd. was before council to get approval for its Mont Blanc Hotel, which will form the fourth corner of the square. Each of the parcels in Village North was zoned and accorded site-specific "volumetrics" prior to being put on the market, so that buyers would know exactly what they were getting. It turns out that United Properties parcel, Lot 5, includes volumetrics that allow a six-storey structure overlooking the square. Lot 5 is a large parcel and the volumetrics call for the building to step down to Village Gate Boulevard, but allow a sheer wall right over top of the square. That wall will keep the square in shadows most of the time. This is obviously a mistake, but nothing can be done about it because of the system that allows fast-tracking of development in Village North. A review of the overall design for Village North was done last year but the shadow problem wasn’t recognized. It got by village designer Eldon Beck, by council, by municipal staff, the advisory design panel and every one else in Whistler. So, although the problem is now recognized and a shovel has yet to touch the ground on the Mont Blanc project, the pace of development and the cost of revising plans dictates that the hotel will be built as planned — six storeys overlooking the square. The Mont Blanc Hotel will be a concrete structure and as such should last at least a century. But every day it will cast a shadow over the square, making the space much less than it could have been. There are bigger problems in Whistler, to be sure. But when a design is obviously wrong, why go ahead and build it anyway? That wasn’t the attitude that pushed for the signal light at Blueberry Drive.

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