Rezoning continues for private employee-housing projects 

Public information meetings and public hearings still to come

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRADEN DUPUIS - IN THE ZONE Council wants to see housing developed on private sites, but it wants the projects to work within existing neighbourhoods.
  • Photo By Braden Dupuis
  • IN THE ZONE Council wants to see housing developed on private sites, but it wants the projects to work within existing neighbourhoods.

Two private developer employee-housing projects are now greenlit for further review, while council has directed staff to examine different models for three others.

The decision came after an extended discussion on the five projects (of varying degrees of controversy) at the Feb. 26 council meeting.

As such, the rezoning applications on Cloudburst Drive and Rob Boyd Way will now proceed as planned.

The three others, all of which have garnered opposition from neighbours, will prove trickier.

With council's direction, staff will "broaden the scope" of its existing guidelines for the projects to consider how they might best fit in their respective neighbourhoods (one idea floated by council was to use an ownership model rather than rental-only), before returning to council at an upcoming meeting.

Proposed rental rates for all five are now public, ranging from $2.55 to $3.64 per square foot (for comparison, Whistler Housing Authority rates range from $1.75 to $2 per square foot).

"These are all below market value, as that was a criteria of this initiative" said municipal planner Amica Antonelli in a presentation to council, noting that parking and utility fees will be extra in some cases, and rates won't be finalized until designs are.

Public information meetings will be held before zoning bylaws are brought forward for each project, followed by a full public hearing process in which all residents can state their case for or against.

All correspondence received on the projects to this point will also be included in the process.

Meanwhile, a rezoning application for a 200-bed, staff-housing complex from Vail Resorts is expected to be presented to council this spring.


Plans for the project in Nordic—which has garnered far and away the most opposition from neighbours, including a fresh series of questions from Nordic residents at the Feb. 26 council meeting—remain unchanged from council's last update in the fall (see Pique, Oct. 5, 2018:

The biggest concerns with the project are how it would change the character of the quiet cul-de-sac it's located on, and how it might impact egress from the neighbourhood.

A traffic impact study found the wait time for southbound turns out of Nordic is already below a "desirable level of service," and the wait time is expected to increase if the development goes ahead.

"Staff have been working with the Ministry of Transportation on a highway study looking at potential improvements, the associated costs and the potential for funding," Antonelli said.

"If improvements to the Nordic and Whistler Way intersections are feasible we could look at a cost-sharing with the development, but without these types of improvements, staff feel that we are unlikely to move forward with further review of this application."

Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) infrastructure services staffers will be meeting with the ministry next week to discuss the issue, said director of planning Mike Kirkegaard.

A resident of Nordic Estates himself since 1981, Councillor Arthur De Jong said he's heard much about the project from his neighbours.

"I feel like we're pushing a watermelon of density down a big pen here ... we really have to back away," he said of the project.

"I certainly appreciate that ever-so-sensitive need for employee housing, it just has to fit that micro neighbourhood."

Coun. Jen Ford agreed.

"The overwhelming opposition to this project makes it difficult to approve," she said.

"This project doesn't cut it for me, but I am very supportive of them going away and finding a way for it to work for the neighbourhood."


The proposal in White Gold has grown since it was last seen in September, now with higher density and an additional storey (from 47 units in four storeys to 59 units and five storeys).

Green space has been increased, while parking has been reduced to 55 stalls.

RMOW staff noted that the proposed site is close to transit, shopping and the Village, and could support the reduced parking ask, but its current proposed scale doesn't fit with the neighbourhood, and staff concerns are not addressed in the most recent submission.

The massing is much more dense than the other projects, Ford conceded, but there's a lot to like about the proposal.

"It does meet all those other criteria for me ... I'm open to a smaller massing, but I do like the project," she said.

"I'm sorry that it's raising ire in the neighbourhood from the Fitzsimmons Walk community, so let's find a compromise."


Council approved consideration of the site at 8974 Highway 99—also known as Rainbow Ridge—on the condition that the proponents get assurance from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) that highway access would be allowed.

In a letter received in January, MOTI indicated it does not support giving full highway access (with two existing rights-of-way through the Rainbow neighbourhood already).

Right-in, right-out access from Highway 99 may be considered, the Ministry said, though RMOW staff doesn't support that idea.

The proposal itself remains unchanged from September: 99 apartments and 48 bed units.

"I'm kinda back to where we began, in that we don't proceed with that project until we have better access to it," said Coun. John Grills. "Yeah it's a great property, but I can't see sending all those people through the existing neighbourhood, given the numbers of traffic that the project would entail."


The proposal in Cheakamus Crossing from Whistler Sport Legacies has also changed, going from 56 units in two buildings (48 in one building and eight in another) to 58 units in a single building.

A second building is still being considered, though details have not been developed.

With staff seeing no considerable "roadblocks" in the process, council opted to give the go ahead for further review.


The Whistler Mountain Ski Club's proposal in Creekside—a different breed than the rest—also remains unchanged.

The club is proposing to renovate its old patrollers cabin with two shared apartments or one dormitory to help house its coaches in the winter and other employees when available.

Like the proposal in Cheakamus, the project will continue as planned with council's motion.

Rezoning application signs have been posted on each property, and public hearings will be advertised in advance.

Watch the full discussion and follow the rezoning process at


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