Whistler rejects spa application for interpretive forest land 

The only question among Whistler council members Tuesday regarding a proposed spa in the Whistler Interpretive Forest was which member would be first to make the motion to reject the application.

A pair of Quebec businessmen have applied to lease approximately 5.5 hectares of Crown land within the Whistler Interpretive Forest for the purpose of building a spa.

Pierre Brisson and Benoit Berthiaume operate Spa Le Scandinave at Mont Tremblant, a health centre offering Finnish saunas, Norwegian steambaths, outdoor Jacuzzis and Swedish massage. The Tremblant facility is right on the Diable River and also advertises swimming and deer observation.

Their Whistler application is within the interpretive forest and right on the west side of the Cheakamus River, between the Westside Main road and the river. Most of the land is within municipal boundaries.

The five council members at Tuesday’s meeting were unanimous – and very quick – to support a staff recommendation that the spa location is inappropriate. That motion will be forwarded to the B.C. Assets and Land Corporation which is considering input from government agencies, First Nations, the municipality and user groups.

Councillor Ken Melamed noted that while Whistler does not support the application it is BCAL that determines whether or not a lease should be granted.

However, senior planner Robert MacPherson confirmed that even if BCAL did grant the spa operators a lease, they would still require the municipality to rezone the lands.

A spokesman for BCAL said last month that a final decision on the lease application would likely be made within six months.

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