No leeway for Nesters Crossing 

Developers lose fight for more employee-restricted housing

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRADEN DUPUIS - CROSSED UP The Resort Municipality of Whistler will not allow more housing units or ease landscaping restrictions in Nesters Crossing.
  • Photo by Braden Dupuis
  • CROSSED UP The Resort Municipality of Whistler will not allow more housing units or ease landscaping restrictions in Nesters Crossing.

Despite the objections of owners in the area, the RMOW will not allow more housing units or ease landscaping restrictions in Nesters Crossing.

At a May 8 public hearing for the rezoning—to amend the permitted uses of the CTI1 zone to add "freight forwarder and shipping agent" as additional permitted uses and remove the restriction that indoor storage be only for businesses—proponents spent more than an hour pleading for the allowance of four housing units (rather than the currently permitted one) and less-restrictive landscaping requirements.

But in addressing the comments at the July 10 council meeting, staff recommended no changes to the bylaw as written.

In response to the landscaping concerns—which require 10 per cent of each parcel to be landscaped (though proponents argue it's actually much more than that when buffers are taken into account)—staff noted that the requirements could be varied through individual development permits rather than reducing the requirement for all properties.

But denying the request for more housing was a tougher pill for some councillors to swallow.

For the second time, Coun. Steve Anderson tried to amend the bylaw to permit the four units of housing.

"I just see a real disjoint in hearing about the housing crisis ... we've got all these pending units in the works that may appear by 2021 or 2022, (but) we can't say 'crisis' and also say 'we'll wait a few years until we remedy it,'" Anderson said.

"I think these businesses want to house their staff and I think they'll get up to the plate and do it in short order, and I'd like to give them a provision to do that."

Anderson's motion was supported by Councillors Jen Ford and Cathy Jewett, but was defeated in a 3-3 vote. Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden and Couns. John Grills and Sue Maxwell were opposed. Coun. Jack Crompton recused himself, as he owns a parcel in Nesters Crossing.

"I don't think that we should be causing future problems in our rush to address this," Maxwell said. "I do think that we should be pursuing some other temporary housing options, (but) I don't think that these land uses are compatible with that."

Grills also referenced the light-industrial nature of the area in his decision, along with staff's point that allowing four housing units on each of the eight parcels (which could eventually be subdivided) could lead to a significant increase in the number of people residing there.

"These are some well-established companies ... there's nothing restricting them from buying or developing housing elsewhere in the community where it is zoned appropriately," Grills said.

The bylaw was given third reading as-is, and will be up for adoption at the July 24 council meeting.

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