Gas company deal hinges on Rainbow rezoning 

Council votes 4 to 3 to approve rezoning

With a rezoning in the works, developers have been able to sign a "conditional lease" with a national gas company for the new gas station at Rainbow.

Architect Tim Ankenman confirmed this week that a lease has been newly signed but it still hinges on a rezoning that will double the space of the station.

"If everything aligns we actually hope to start construction this calendar year," said Ankenman.

Council recently approved the initial stages of a rezoning that will see the convenience store/service station go from 115 square metres to 223 square metres (1,200 square feet to 2,400 square feet).

It was however, a narrow vote that looked like it could fail over the course of the debate.

But with a 4 to 3 majority in favour of the rezoning it is moving ahead to the public hearing process where residents will be able to comment on the proposal.

The rezoning is coming forward because developers have been unable to secure a gas company with so little convenience store space.

But there are concerns from some members of council. Not only are the Rainbow developers looking to increase the space of the gas station but also to increase the space of the larger commercial development slated for the northern subdivision.

"I believe that this thing is being piecemealed at us," said Councillor Eckhard Zeidler.

"We need to be able to look at this whole project... I don't know how council could be expected, or should be expected, to make a lucid decision on this."

Councillor Chris Quinlan encouraged council to consider the two rezoning requests separately.

"This is due," he said of the gas station. "And its time has come."

Mayor Ken Melamed, who ultimately voted against the rezoning, also asked about a sunset clause that would require the developer to build the gas station by a certain date or potentially lose the zoning. He pointed to the Function Junction lands that were rezoned for First Nations with a gas station in mind with the expectation that it would be operating before the 2010 Olympics.

Ankenman said the intent is to have the six-pump station up and running as soon as possible. He estimates it will take about six to eight months to build.


One more house added to Alpine neighbourhood

A Whistler family is subdividing their lot in Alpine to allow two homes on the site, in the first infill housing project to move forward in Whistler.

After nearly a decade developing the concept of infill housing, which allows more density on existing lots, the first project has raised the hackles of some councillors who are against the infill concept in general.

That's why both Councillors Tom Thomson and Ted Milner voted against approving a development permit at the last council meeting.

"I see that you're not consulting the neighbours," said Milner to municipal staff.

"Why would you not consult with the neighbours?"

Public consultation took place when council did a blanket rezoning to allow infill housing in the Alpine subdivision. At that time there was general opposition from a number of people at the public hearing.

Like Milner, Thomson was opposed to the blanket rezoning at the time.

Last Tuesday night he added: "I would not like to see a proliferation of it happening in the neighbourhood."

On the flip side, however, there was broad support and even excitement from the other side of the council table to see infill housing moving forward.

"This is new ground for everybody," said Councillor Chris Quinlan.

"Literally, it's been almost nine years to the day (to see a project come through the hall from the inception of infill housing.)"

Infill housing was developed as a way to retain locals and employees in the resort.

To get additional density and be allowed to build a second home on the lot, owners must agree to make one parcel resident restricted. That means it must be occupied by an employee or retiree of Whistler at the restricted rental rates and it will have a restricted resale price set by the Whistler Housing Authority.

Council approved the development permit in a five to two vote and acknowledged the patience of the family who are testing the waters with the infill housing concept.



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