Nita Lake developers address concerns 

With a promise of no outdoor patio speakers or hot tub near neighbouring homes, developers of the Nita Lake Lodge are hoping to ease some of the public’s concern about noise coming from their proposed development.

These changes are among a host of modifications to the project, which is proposed for the shores of Nita Lake.

"I think that we’ve tried to do things that are dealing specifically with the character of the neighbourhood," said David Ehrhardt, principal with the Nita Lake Lodge Corporation.

The proposed changes to the development came after members of the public voiced their concerns at a recent public hearing.

At Monday’s council meeting, Councillor Nick Davies asked council to defer a decision on moving the project forward for another two weeks because Councillor Ken Melamed was not present at the meeting. Only five councillors can vote on the project. Mayor Hugh O’Reilly and Councillor Gordon McKeever are in conflicts of interest.

Davies reiterated that that he was not asking for a deferral because he had any major problems with the Nita Lake Lodge proposal.

"I think it is a good project," he said.

Still, he raised some concerns.

He asked that the developers be aware that the 80-room lodge and train station are going into an existing neighbourhood where people have lived for years.

The lodge is on Nita Lake and Davies also has concerns about noise carrying over the water and disturbing neighbours, as well as the ambient lighting from the development.

"We have to think about the noise that may be generated from this project," he said, adding that he’s fed up walking through the village to the sounds of the Gypsy Kings coming from patios.

In response to the worry about noise, which seemed to be one of the major concerns at the public hearing, the developers proposed a number of changes to mitigate sound.

They will get rid of the public dock on the lake and the hot tub near the residential area. They will not allow speakers on the patios. They will increase the landscape buffer at the end of Drew Drive and provide loading docks in the underground parkade.

They will also ensure all ambient lighting falls within the site of the lodge and the train station.

Another aspect to the multi-faceted deal is the promise to dedicate 25 acres of sensitive wetland northwest of Function Junction. Two acres of that wetland, abutting Alta Lake Road, will be the site of some apartment-style employee housing units.

Councillor Marianne Wade said she wanted more research done to manage the development, which would take into account the wetland sensitivities.

As such the developers have responded with a promise to prepare an environmental management plan to mitigate the impacts of the development on that site.

Councillor Kristi Wells raised concerns about the safety of employees walking to and from the seasonal employee housing.

In response the developers propose to build a walkway along the road from the employee-housing site to the highway, in addition to a bus pullout and transit shelter next to the housing.

Wells also wanted to ensure that while employees of the lodge will get first crack at the projects’ employee housing, all future transactions will have to go through the Whistler Housing Authority pool.

Councillor Caroline Lamont raised concerns about a park amenity for youth as part of the project. The developers have come back with a $10,000 cash donation to go towards an outdoor recreation amenity for youth at Alpha Lake Park.

The developers have also agreed that the multi-million dollar train station beside the lodge will be accessible to the public and that all future operators of a passenger train service coming through Whistler will have legal access to the train station facility.

Council will consider the project at the next council meeting, on Tuesday, May 20.

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