Public input sought on Function housing 

Council still weighing pros and cons of housing in industrial park

A housing project in Whistler’s industrial park is one step closer to becoming a reality, despite some serious concerns from council about its location.

The public now has a chance to add their comments on the plans for a 30-unit apartment complex, proposed for the north end of Function Junction, before council makes its final decision.

"There are certainly elements about this I don’t like," said Councillor Gordon McKeever at Monday’s council meeting.

Among his concerns is the fact that the building is located more than a 10 minute walk away from the closest transit stop, which is not in keeping with council policy to put resident housing close to transit.

Other challenges with the site, highlighted by the municipality’s General Manager of Planning and Development Services Bob MacPherson, are its proximity to the sewage treatment plant, which depending on which way the wind is blowing, leaves an unpleasant smell hanging over Function. This problem, however, is expected to be rectified in the coming years with new technology at the sewage plant.

The project will also sit next to the rail line, which raises concerns about the noise of passing trains.

Noise level tests have been done in the building adjacent to the proposed housing site.

"It’s quite surprising how little of the train you actually do hear," said MacPherson.

On the upside, the project will add 30 units of housing, which will be offered to the first of the 500 people waiting to buy resident-restricted housing on the Whistler Housing Authority waitlist.

That means the apartments will be price restricted as well as restricted to employees of the resort.

Councillor Kristi Wells recognized that the community is in a "desperate situation" with its housing but she said they could make better choices.

She was however willing to move the project to a public hearing to get feedback from the public.

While admittedly it’s not a perfect project, MacPherson said there are merits to it, which will appeal to some people on the waitlist. Perhaps it’s not right for families he said, but it could suit young couples who work in Function Junction.

On a personal note he said this would have been something he himself would have considered when he first moved to Whistler 15 years ago.

"I would have been delighted to find an apartment there," said MacPherson candidly.

A date for the public hearing, which allows members of the public to speak either for or against the project, has yet to be set.

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