Whistler strikes back over SLRD’s rogue rezoning 

Council votes to withdraw funding over board’s decision on Wedge rezoning

“They should think very carefully about the partnership and the - relationshipthey have with Whistler.”  Whistler's mayor, Ken Melamed, gets tough with SLRD. Photo by Maureen Provencal
  • “They should think very carefully about
    the partnership and the relationship
    they have with Whistler.” Whistler's mayor,
    Ken Melamed, gets tough with SLRD.
    Photo by Maureen Provencal

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But last month the SLRD board received a report from staff for a rezoning of the land to allow 108 homes in the development — a 40 per cent increase on what had already been approved.

Despite their own staff’s recommendations not to proceed, and an impassioned plea from Mayor Ken Melamed, the SLRD board of directors moved ahead in a six to two vote, with one director absent.

It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

“It’s a slap in the face of this community,” said Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

She had considered requesting that council vote to have Whistler withdraw from the board altogether. Upon further reflection, and because she didn’t think she could get support for that move, Wilhelm-Morden asked that council remove its funding.

They are aware, she said, that the move will take Whistler out of land use planning decisions at the regional level.

“It doesn’t make any difference anyway because they don’t listen to us,” she said, adding that Whistler will continue to have its say in the Regional Growth Strategy, which also determines future land use.

“We don’t seem to be able to get our message through without taking some drastic action and this is what this is.”

Area MLA Joan McIntyre also expressed shock and concern about Whistler’s decision. She has been actively promoting corridor partnerships since she was elected last year.

“I’ve been encouraging the communities to work together,” she said from the road Wednesday.

“It appears as though this is a step in the other direction.”

Without hearing from the stakeholders at this point, however, she was reticent to say more until she had a better understanding of Whistler’s decision.

The decision will most definitely have an impact on the functions and services of the planning department at the SLRD.

“It’s a big step,” agreed Squamish Mayor Ian Sutherland, the only SLRD director to support Whistler last month, “and I’m sure it will get the attention of the SLRD.”

Squamish has also considered removing its funding from the SLRD in the past but they wanted to remain at the table for decisions that could impact them in communities such as Furry Creek, Britannia Beach and Porteau Cove.

“When we’ve talked about it in the past we’ve always felt that it’s better to be at the table and paying the money to be part of it,” said Sutherland.

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