editorial 

For such a highly planned resort, it’s ironic that Whistler is in such a mess over tourist accommodation. We refer, of course, to the villa and chalet issue that, at times during Monday’s public hearing on the six most recent villa rezoning applications, seemed to bitterly divide the people gathered at Myrtle Philip school. Towards the end of the nearly four hours of public debate there were several people who spoke of the folly of the whole system and the legal-like way it divided neighbours into those for and those against, regardless of an individual proposal’s merits or personal feelings for one another. To be sure, there was an element of the last-one-in-pull-up-the-drawbridge philosophy that is so often used to argue against employee housing projects in neighbourhoods. But there were also several heartfelt, emotional pleas to protect neighbourhoods from the noise, disturbances and intrusions that many people who live next door to rental houses have had to endure. There were arguments about how legalizing chalets and villas was going to put Whistler far beyond its bed unit cap and what that was going to mean for the sewer system and other infrastructure. (Although "legal" bed units don’t produce any more sewage or use more water than "illegal" bed units, the argument does point out how inaccurate the bed unit count may be.) At the root of most arguments against the rezonings was a sense of disillusionment and betrayal, stemming from the fact villas and chalets have been operating for years in contravention of a municipal bylaw. Much of the debate that took place Monday, in the form of condemnation of the whole process, should have taken place a year ago, when the municipality was formulating its policy on chalet and villas. That wasn’t fair to the six individual applicants, who have conformed to requirements and a policy set out by council in a very public process. Through nearly four hours of debate there was probably less than an hour spent on the individual merits of all six applications. But public hearings are part of the rezoning process set out under the Municipal Act. Council decided to deal with villas and chalets through zoning and now they have to decide on individual applicants — six this week, another hundred or so to go. But anyone who sat through the entire hearing Monday night had to leave with the impression there can be no real winners in this process, only bitter feelings.

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