greensides 

Greenside Properties likely won’t have to provide any of the public amenities it promised the municipality in return for rezoning of the Whistler Kampground lands, but its not by their design. Greenside had proposed providing 15 affordable housing lots and a private school as public amenities, and in return was given rezoning for 86 single family and duplex lots on the Whistler Kampground lands. A public elementary school will now likely be built on the land suggested for the private school, but it could be some time before the school is built, and it will be done at the public’s expense. Whistler Valley Housing Society Chairman Max Kirkpatrick says the province is to blame for the loss of affordable housing. "There’s only one way for it to go. The Crown has backed us into a corner on this one," Kirkpatrick said. The land Greenside originally proposed for the private school, nearly seven years ago, is Crown land, although the province had dedicated it to the municipality for use as a park. Kirkpatrick had hoped to have Greenside drop the private school in favour of 200 units of affordable housing on the 7 acres. Greenside was amenable and was negotiating a land transfer with the municipality when Crown lands stepped in and demanded market value for the land. The province was offered approximately 9 acres alongside Fitzsimmons Creek in exchange for the 7 acre parcel, but turned it down. However, the province will turn the land over to the school board for use as an elementary school. With the school lands out of the equation, Greenside says it needs to make a return on its investment and the only way to do that is to turn the affordable housing lots into market lots. If that happens, Greenside will be left with a simple single family subdivision development and won’t be providing either of the amenities it had planned to deliver. "Not only that, but by taking away the 15 affordable housing lots (and making them market housing lots) we’re adding 90 bed units to the municipality’s total from somewhere," said Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick says if the municipality tried to force Greenside to keep the affordable housing lots "we’d just get into a pissing match with their lawyers. They’ve been really beat up by this whole project." He places the blame squarely on the shoulders of the province. "The Crown is being absolute jerks on this," he said. "They want to be compensated. "They’re just absolutely in a money grab." Kirkpatrick is not happy with the deal, but says it’s not by Greenside’s design. "The Crown is holding us to ransom," he said. Greenside still hopes to offer the first phase of lots for sale this fall. Meanwhile, an elementary school on the site is likely several years away, as the Ministry of Education currently has a freeze on capital spending. The freeze will be reviewed in a few months, but several other school districts had applied for capital funds before the freeze was announced, so a second Whistler elementary school is probably low on the provincial list. (is an elementary school a higher priority than expanding the high school?) Municipality faced with a chicken and egg decision: housing, or schools for kids in housing. - Report to council Monday

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