How will Whistler cope with more growth? 

MOU between RMOW, province, WB and First Nations to be presented April 25

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRANDON BARRETT - IN AGREEMENT Members of the Squamish and Lil'wat First Nations at a ceremony April 9 marking the recent signing of a partnership with Whistler Blackcomb as part of its 60-year Master Development Agreement.
  • Photo by Brandon Barrett
  • IN AGREEMENT Members of the Squamish and Lil'wat First Nations at a ceremony April 9 marking the recent signing of a partnership with Whistler Blackcomb as part of its 60-year Master Development Agreement.

As Whistler continues to witness ever-increasing numbers of visitors — and the strains on things like housing and traffic that have come along with that — many in the community have voiced concern over where it's all heading.

At the April 11 council meeting, some Whistlerites took the podium to ask questions directly to council.

John Wood said his family has been involved in the community since the '60s, and he's become "extremely concerned" for what the future holds.

"I guess what really kicked me in the butt about a year ago was the release of Whistler Blackcomb's (WB) revisions to its master plan, and since then I've been asking the same question: How the hell can this community possibly cope with what WB has in its plans?" Wood asked, noting that the plans expect an additional 400,000 visitors every year, and will likely come with more development.

"Just tell me how it is that it can be even considered to further expand the business level, add more attractions to this valley, until all these issues are dealt with? How can we even talk about it?

"We've got so much to do before we can even talk about inviting 400,000 more people into this community."

Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said that the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) isn't considering the question at this moment, as no rezoning application has been dropped off at municipal hall.

"Once there is there will be ample opportunity for the community to speak to the merits of the application and for your council to consider the pros and the cons and make decisions," the mayor said.

"We haven't seen a rezoning application, so until we do this discussion is premature."

Anne Townley noted that at the budget open house on February 28, Wilhelm-Morden said the Economic Partnership Initiative (EPI) committee was being tasked with studying growth in the community, and wondered how broad their study would be.

"Will they look at the social issues affecting the community? Will they be talking with the social-service providers in this community?" Townley asked.

Wilhelm-Morden responded by saying the EPI committee is primarily looking at economic influences and factors.

Chief Administrative Officer Mike Furey added that other committees like the Transportation Advisory Group and the Mayor's Task Force on Resident Housing are also looking at the impacts of growth.

"Once we get all those ideas we would bring them together and council would consider (them)... and try and determine a path forward," Furey said.

"So along the way there would be community engagement in that exercise as well."

Whistlerites will have a better idea of what the future holds after the April 25 council meeting, where Furey will present a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the RMOW, Whistler Blackcomb, the provincial government and the Squamish and Lil'wat First Nations.

Wilhelm-Morden said Furey will be touching briefly on the MDA in his presentation on April 25, "but currently the renewal of the MDA is an agreement between (WB, the province and First Nations)," she said.

"Now, there is some discussion about development opportunities in that agreement, but until there is a rezoning application in the door of this hall we're not considering it."

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