Riverside: An open view

I have some serious concerns about the council decision to stop the public process for Riverside Campground. Two weeks ago there was a statement by the mayor and supported by the rest of council not to allow Riverside to proceed to a public open house. Planning staff reports and advisory planning commission resolutions were clear and concise — the project was ready to begin the public process — however mayor and council rejected those recommendations.

The Riverside project has had a very special relationship with council and staff. In 1995 there was a proposal call for campgrounds. That proposal call was developed by staff and supported by council. There were seven projects that responded to the proposal call and in very short order Riverside was designated the most suitable to the needs of the community. The proposal call envisioned a campground, recreational vehicle sites and other related amenities that were in keeping with the high standards of the resort.

It took almost fours years for the project to move from the proposal call to rezoning. Even though staff and the majority of council were supportive, there were two council members at the time that had a different vision of the project. They both wanted to see a “minimalist” project that was similar to the forestry type of campgrounds that were already on the borders of the municipality. Staff, advisory planning commission, and the majority of council, however, supported a first class project with R.V. sites, cabins, employee housing and recreational amenities.

The project finally received fourth reading in March of 1999 and was open for business in December of the same year. Even though it took the municipality four years to process the application, Riverside was able to open the campground on a limited basis in the fall of the same year. It was always intended that the project would be phased. Phase one included the R.V. sites on the west side of Fitzsimmons Creek. By the fall of 2001 everything on the west side was complete, including the main building, restaurant, store, employee housing, family cabins and grass putting course. The overall facility, including the cabins, employee housing and main lodge, were not only built in compliance with the development permit, but the quality of the final product is exceptional, and has resulted in recognition and praise from the camping industry and Riverside’s guests alike . Riverside always intended to develop the remaining sites on the east side of Fitzsimmons Creek as part of phase 2, but a downturn in Whistler economic conditions slowed down that development plan.

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