Village density maintained at current size 

Council congratulates staff on three-year project

A set of bylaws, crafted to limit the growth of existing buildings in the village, is finally ready after three years in the making.

“Congratulations,” Mayor Ken Melamed said to Mike Kirkegaard, manager of resort planning. “It’s been an extensive and extended process.”

The bylaws deal with the Core Commercial 1 zone (CC1), which stretches from the Tantalus Lodge in the south to Village Gate Boulevard on the north and Blackcomb Way to the east.

After exhaustive work examining view corridors in the village and doing a shadow analysis of all the buildings, the new bylaws will limit the CC1 zone to its current size. Property owners will be able to add a relatively small expansion of 20 square metres to allow additions that support reinvestment in existing businesses.

“This has been a long time in coming,” said Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, who was part of the CC1 task force charged with examining the issue.

“There isn’t a lot of room for additions to density in the village.”

Property owners, she added, shouldn’t be looking to add density to their projects as a way to fund renovations of their buildings in the village.

The issue came to head several years ago when property owners approached the municipality to expand their village locations. The rationale behind allowing the expansion was that the zoning allowed a maximum Floor Space Ratio (FSR) of 3.5.

The FSR is the gross floor area of the building divided by the parcel area.

Only one building in the zone, the Sundial Hotel above Black’s Pub, is built out to the maximum 3.5 FSR. It’s one of the tallest buildings in the CC1. The others have a much smaller FSR, averaging out to 1.7 metres.

That means if every property was built to its 3.5 FSR maximum, the village would essentially double in size. And that was never the intention, said Kirkegaard.

“We need to protect the fundamental design principles that are critical to (the village) experience,” he added.

In his report to council he states:

“The actual existing approved densities are considered to be the intended base densities for each parcel as established by the Whistler Village Master Plan, Whistler Village Design Guidelines, approved development permits and registered development covenants.”

Under the new bylaws, if property owners would like to increase in size, they must go through a formal rezoning. Staff has developed a CC1 zone density policy, which will guide any future rezonings.

“We can safely go ahead and see the revitalization of the village without (additional) density,” said Melamed.

“The sense is the village is dense enough.”

When it was first introduced in 2004, the policy sparked concerns from several village property owners who felt they could always build to the 3.5 FSR. It was a tool they were hoping to use to help finance renovations to existing buildings.

Kirkegaard said the municipality would be sending out letters to all strata property managers and principal contacts. The bylaws will move to a public hearing where all parties will be able to express their support or concerns for the bylaws. A date for the public hearing has not yet been set.

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