Three months ago Whistler voters elected a new council. At Monday’s council meeting — at the new time of 7 p.m. — the first real indications of how this new council differs from the previous one were seen. One of the indicators was the response to a letter received by council from the Soo Coalition for Sustainable Forests, which sought support for the concept of keeping representation on Local Resource Management Plans strictly local. In particular, the Soo Coalition was concerned about special interests (read: environmentalists) from outside the Lillooet area being involved in the Lillooet LRMP process. In all likelihood the previous council would have received the letter as information or supported the Soo Coalition’s position. This council, on the initiative of Councillor Ken Melamed and supported unanimously by the four other councillors present Monday, will write a letter opposing the Soo Coalition’s position and in favour of keeping the door open for environmental groups from all over to participate in Local Resource Management Plans. The second indication this council is going in a new direction was the defeat of the bylaw that would have entrenched the current limited Blueberry Gate opening in the Official Community Plan. The bylaw, proposed by the previous council, was intended to allay the fears of many Blueberry Hill and Whistler Cay residents that the gate might some day be opened to the general public, rather than just to public transit, municipal vehicles and emergency vehicles as it is at present. While the defeat of the bylaw outraged many residents in attendance, the intent is still to keep the gate closed to all but the above vehicles — it’s just not enshrined in the OCP. The difference here is the previous council felt it had to offer some legal assurance to Blueberry and Whistler Cay residents. The new council, or at least the three members who voted against the bylaw, were saying "trust us." Unfortunately that didn’t satisfy some of the Blueberry and Whistler Cay residents who returned for the public question session that is now a part of each council meeting. Accusations were flying, Mayor Hugh O’Reilly was pounding his gavel trying to restore order and before he left for the evening one resident gave a councillor the middle finger salute. All of which suggests that while the new council may be taking a different approach in some areas, land use, protectionism and trust will remain as major issues for council to deal with.


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