New day dawns for First Nations 

Whistler agrees to development rights, sees resolution on provincial issues

The eight Whistler sites that are being turned over to the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations.
  • The eight Whistler sites that are being turned over to the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations.

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For MLA Joan McIntyre this is a precedent-setting deal in the province and one that fills her with pride.

“I’m so proud to be a part of this government at this time in history,” she said from Victoria this week.

“It totally exemplifies what we’ve been trying to do at the provincial level in terms of these relationships.”

It was the promise of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games that brought the province and Four Host First Nations together in 2002 to sign an overarching Shared Legacies Agreement. In return for their support of the Games, the First Nations were to get various economic opportunities in the Sea to Sky corridor.

Soft-spoken Leonard Andrew, chief of the Lil’wat Nation, also spoke to council Monday, saying the last three years have been a very fruitful time for everyone in regards to how they share the land.

“Hopefully we’ll be a model for the rest of the province to follow,” said councillor Ralph Forsyth.

Only councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden voted against it.

She looked directly at the Chiefs in the audience as she began to list her reasons for opposition, admitting that what she was about say was very difficult.

“First, there was no consultation from the province,” she said, later adding that some would say council was backed into a corner.

She also questioned why First Nations picked all 300 acres in Whistler, the only community in the corridor to have a growth cap. And why all the residential units were going in Alpine North, when the new school and fire hall are located in the south end of town.

Do we need 75 additional market houses, she asked, particularly with the market units attached to the Rainbow development.

“In the short-term, when is enough, enough?”

She summed up the deal saying Whistler gets land, First Nations get money and “the province gets peace during the Olympics.”

The mayor said he appreciated some of her concerns but the deal works to Whistler’s advantage too.

“It really is in the community’s best interests to have all these issues resolved,” he said.

He also said that by handing over some of the last remaining bed units in the inventory that Whistler may be able to move away from “this addiction to development.”

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