OCP amendment for Callaghan approved 

All councillors support revised amendment

Council voted unanimously in favour of amending the Official Community Plan this week to allow for potential development in the Callaghan Valley.

Even councillor Ken Melamed, who vehemently opposed the amendment when it was first presented to council last month, was satisfied by changes made by municipal staff.

"I remain very uncomfortable... yet I believe staff has come a long way in providing some assurances," he said at Monday’s meeting.

After voting in favour of the change, Melamed then proposed that council revisit the amendment in September 2003 if Whistler loses the bid the 2010 Olympic Games.

This suggestion was also passed unanimously by council.

On Nov. 18 there was a public hearing on the OCP amendment where dozens of local residents voiced their concerns and their support about the proposed change.

Many were concerned that the amendment was being rushed through council without proper community consultation in order to be official in time for the release of the Olympic bid book.

Mayor Hugh O’Reilly said that was never the case.

"This was really just an OCP amendment to make sure that what we said in our bid book was consistent with what might be potentially possible so that we hadn’t made a statement that we couldn’t back up," he said after the meeting.

The amendment, presented to council in November, called for the development of medium density housing in the Callaghan Valley and the South Cheakamus Bench, next to the town dump and across the highway from Function Junction.

These lands are part of the legacy package from the province that comes with bidding for the 2010 Olympic Games. The Callaghan is the preferred site for the athletes village should Whistler get the Games.

When he opposed the amendment during first and second readings a month ago Melamed said: "The Callaghan and the Olympics will become a catalyst for a large city on the outskirts of Whistler."

The Callaghan is roughly 12 kilometres south of the village on Highway 99.

During the proposal’s third reading on Monday night, council was presented with wording changes to the OCP amendment that satisfied Melamed’s concerns.

The amendment now states that resident housing can either be developed in the Callaghan Valley or on the South Cheakamus Bench. The original proposal implied that there could be development on both.

The revised amendment also states that housing would only be created in either place if it were supported by the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan, as determined by the community. Also, any development would be guided by a detailed planning review by the municipality.

"I think it’s clear (from) the wording that we really don’t know where we’re going yet," said newly elected Councillor Caroline Lamont.

She did say that whatever happens it would be subject to Whistler’s policies and regulations.

After she spoke of her support of the amendment, newly elected Councillor Gordon McKeever also voiced his support.

"I’m satisfied that this is not open season on the Callaghan," he said.

Councillor Kristi Wells added that there is a potential to trade the land in the Callaghan for other crown lands within the municipal boundary.

The provincial land bank deal does not have to include one big chunk of 300-acres. It could be split up into parcels.

This option would be subject to certain conditions and the municipality would not be able to pick and choose any plot of crown land within the boundaries that they liked. It would have to be mutually agreed upon by both the province and the municipality and it must also be consistent with the comprehensive sustainability plan.

O’Reilly calls the work done to secure the land bank "pretty impressive."

"(This) provides another layer of flexibility and options for the community to work with," said O’Reilly.

"We’re not tied down in this other than if we win we have to work with the Bid Corp. to find a village site and with that comes a whole bunch of infrastructure improvements that are obviously going to assist the community."

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