Dear Mayor and Council,
I am writing to oppose the proposed rezoning and development of 2077 Garibaldi Way. I understand and support the need for additional employee housing in Whistler. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that the proposed 222 bed unit /121 parking space development is not appropriate, in any way, for this relatively small, limited access site.
There are a myriad of reasons why I oppose the captioned re-zoning and development proposal. There are clearly many issues about the potential effects that the proposed high density development would have on the surrounding low/medium density single family neighborhoods. However, there are broader issues that potentially affect everyone that lives in or visits Whistler:
- The proposed development will put even more pressure on this section of Highway 99, which is already heavily congested during a good part of each day.
- As traffic has increased on this section of Highway 99 it has become increasingly more difficult, and dangerous, to access Highway 99 from the Nordic/Highland areas. Adding more vehicles to this area will almost certainly add to highway congestion and risks for both local and through traffic.
- It is quite possible that the proposed number of parking spaces will not accommodate all the cars, trucks, and recreational vehicles that this proposed development will attract. While this will likely worsen the local parking problems, especially in winter, it may also create additional snow clearing issues on the municipal roadways and may make it more dangerous for pedestrian traffic.
I am not totally opposed to the development of the land in question. However, I feel that the land should be developed in a manner consistent with existing housing in the area and zoning should not be changed to allow multi-story apartment buildings.
Dear Mayor and Council,
Re: 2077 Garibaldi Way re-zoning application
As Whistler residents and property owners have become aware of the captioned re-zoning application heated debate has developed throughout the community. It is not difficult to understand that the magnitude and scale of this development will have a great negative impact upon the surrounding neighborhoods. It also has the potential to change the future of the re-zoning process and, ultimately, the sustainability of Whistler as a welcoming community for both visitors and residents. Whistler residents are proud of our little town and especially proud that resort communities all over the world hold us up as a model regarding growth management and quality of life! This is not just one neighborhood fighting to prevent approval of this application, it is the community of Whistler raising concerns about the future of the re-zoning process and development.
We would like to join the opposition to this development proposal and raise some strong concerns:
- SIZE AND DENSITY OF THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT – from current single family dwelling with 6 bed units, to multifamily zoning, three 4 storey apartment style buildings, 74 apartments, 222 bed units and 122 parking stalls. We are not aware of any development in residential areas with similar density.
Such development would drastically change the existing character of the family friendly Nordic area which is mostly comprised of single family homes, duplexes/triplex style homes and town home developments. Single family homes are predominantly 2 storey buildings and town homes are 3 levels or less. Increased density would affect noise and traffic levels creating an undesirable impact, including loss of quiet enjoyment and the loss of privacy. These factors are what have contributed to making the Nordic area a desirable place to live and own property.
- Additional pressure to already difficult TRAFFIC PATTERNS AND PARKING – we are already noticing more parking on the streets and extremely difficult access to the HWY when turning south. Our understanding is that council previously denied development of additional day skiers’ parking on the timing flats for these reasons.
- The Developer suggested that this development proposal was discussed with one or two of the largest employers in Whistler. Was the same consultation offered to small business owners? Will they have the same benefit as larger employers? We cannot see how this re-zoning can be beneficial to a business that is not in a position to commit to years of rental and to subsidize their employees in the same manner as larger businesses. Proposed rental rates are not affordable and much higher than WHA rates offered.
- WHA INVOLVMENT IS NOT PART OF THIS DEVELOPMENT- The majority of the employee restricted accommodation is currently developed and monitored by WHA. Part of the WHA mandate is to keep employees’ interest in the forefront and make things fair to all in need of affordable accommodation. We are not aware of any long term rules in place for private employee restricted developments in Whistler. Did Council and staff explore all other options to provide affordable housing managed and controlled by WHA? Are there any other properties owned by the Municipality that would better suit a development of this scale and density?
- ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS were ignored in the process of development on this property. It is now a distressed piece of land due to the owner’s previous actions. The owner decided to clear cut the entire property years before submitting a re-zoning application. Did he acknowledge and properly manage the wet lands that are part of this land? Were any environmental assessments and recommendations done?
These are the most obvious and immediate concerns but we are certain that many more will be discussed in the future.
We would like to finish with a quote from the OCP that was discussed in 2011. There are many similar notes through adopted bylaws, rules and regulations that read in a similar fashion and support our objection to this development.
“Through the active application of balanced resort capacity and this OCP, the RMOW will work with resort partners, stakeholders and the local community to effect and create sustained prosperity. That is, the state of being not only economically successful, but being happy, healthy, with entirety being viable for long term. To sustain prosperity means we maintain an essentially steady-state condition, where economic well being is maintained without requiring continued land development and physical growth that would ultimately compromise the unique attributes which make up social, cultural and natural environments that are the cornerstone of Whistler’s community character and resort success-the Whistler experience.”
Dear Mayor and Council,
I understand and support Whistler’s need for affordable employee housing. However, I oppose the rezoning of 2077 Garibaldi Way and the proposed development because it:
- does not meet the requirements of Whistler’s Official Community Plan;
- has a density and design that is wildly at odds with the surrounding neighbourhood;
- does not have appropriate access: 120+ additional vehicles will enter and exit through a quiet residential cul-de-sac;
- will make Highway 99 access more difficult and dangerous from the affected neighborhoods;
- is affordable for less than 10% of Whistler’s employee population;
- will not be governed by Whistler Housing Authority’s regulations and oversight.
I feel that this site should be developed in a manner consistent with existing housing in the area and zoning should not be changed to allow multi-story apartment buildings.
The section of Highway 99 between the Village and Creekside is already heavily congested for a good part of each day, and vehicles associated with this proposed 222 bed-unit development will add substantially to that congestion.
As traffic has increased on this section of Highway 99, it has become increasingly difficult, and dangerous, to access Highway 99 from the Nordic/Highland areas, for both vehicles and pedestrians. Adding so many more vehicles to these neighbourhoods will increase risks for both local and through traffic, and well as the pedestrians from Watson Way who have to cross the highway here to access public transport.
We believe that the traffic study will show a significant negative impact will result from this development.
It is our understanding that Council previously denied development of additional day skier parking on the Olympic timing flats in Nordic for the same reason. (See the Pique coverage and the local petition.)
It is entirely possible that the proposed number of parking spaces will not accommodate all the cars, trucks, and recreational vehicles that belong to the tenants. This will worsen the local parking problems, especially in winter, and it may also create additional snow clearing issues on the municipal roadways, and increase the danger for pedestrians.
Reasons for Opposition
G.D. Maxwell made an excellent point in the Pique:
the RMOW shouldn’t be enriching private developers. It should stick to the model developed over the past few decades that is the envy of every city, town and municipality that’s studied it: The provision of affordable, targeted, fair, employee-restricted housing delivered and managed through WHA.
Reasons for Opposition
The rezoning application calls for an increase in bed units from 6 to 222, an increase of 3700%. The proposed development is completely out of scale with the surrounding neighbourhood.
2077 Garibaldi Way is a 2.4 acre lot currently zoned as RSE1 (Single Family Residential Estate One), allowing for the development of one large (465 m²) detached dwelling. This equates to 6 bed units. The lot is accessible only from the Garibaldi Way cul-de-sac (Aspen Drive is private strata land.)
The Garibaldi Way cul-de-sac is currently made up of 9 single-family homes and a 7-unit townhouse complex. It is a quiet cul-de-sac, where kids can play.
The proposed development consists of three 4-storey apartment buildings, with a total of 74 units. This equates to 222 bed units. The proposal allows for 122 parking stalls.
Assuming all parking stalls are utilized, there will be an increase in traffic of at least 300% in the cul-de-sac.
Reasons for Opposition
According to Whistler’s Vital Signs 2016:
The average monthly market rental rate for a 2-bedroom unit in 2015 was $2,243. The Whistler Housing Authority estimates that approximately 10% of Whistler individuals earn enough income to afford to rent a 2-bedroom unit. The minimum income required to support this (at 32% of income dedicated to housing costs) is $86,925. The WHA uses Statistics Canada’s National Household Survey after-tax incomes and the average monthly market rental rates advertised in Whistler by unit type, to determine the percentage of Whistler’s working individuals, aged 15 and over, that meet the required income for renting an unrestricted rental unit in Whistler.
The proposed rental rate for a 2-bedroom unit at 2077 Garibaldi Way is $2,475, which would require a minimum income of $92,813 for the apartments to be considered affordable. For a 1-bedroom, an individual would need to earn at least $74,025.
The median income for Whistler in 2015 was $31,330 (RMOW Community Monitoring.)
As G.D. Maxwell pointed out in the Pique, “it gets worse”:
Annual increases in rental rates will be tied to the maximum allowable each year under the guidelines of the BC Residential Tenancy Office. Over the past number of years that rate increase has been four per cent per year. Assuming no change, in five years rents on one-bedroom units will rise to $2,400/month, $2,829/month for one-bedroom plus den, and $3,011/month for a two-bedroom.
Again, by comparison, WHA pegs its rent increases to the rate of inflation… or less. Its rents have been going up around 1.5 per cent and will likely go up by two per cent this year.
At the proposed rents in year one, employees would need to be making between $74,653 and $93,600 per year for one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, respectively, to stay within 33 per cent of their gross. After five years, those incomes would need to increase to between $87,334 and $109,135 to stay within guidelines. That is a 17 per cent increase in income over five years. Let’s see a show of hands; everyone who has enjoyed that size increase in income over the last five years?
Reasons for Opposition
The Official Community Plan (OCP) says (emphasis ours):
4.13 EVALUATING PROPOSALS FOR OCP AND ZONING AMENDMENTS (Bylaw 1938, 2010)
Proposed amendments to the OCP or Zoning Bylaw, especially those which would significantly increase the accommodation capacity within the existing Municipal boundaries, will only be approved under very special circumstances, and must comply with the criteria under this section. These criteria have been prepared to ensure that the goals and objectives of the Official Community Plan and the Comprehensive Development Plan are satisfied. Proposed OCP amendments or rezonings that are of a minor or technical nature must conform with this Part, but it is assumed that the evaluations can be brief and quickly conducted.
Proposed OCP amendments or rezonings that increase the bed-unit capacity of the Municipality will only be considered if the development:
a) provides clear and substantial benefits to the community and the resort;
b) is supported by the community, in the opinion of Council;
c) will not cause unacceptable impacts on the community, resort, or environment; and
d) meets all applicable criteria set out in the Official Community Plan.
The Municipality will annually review its growth management policies and determine what kinds and amounts of additional development, if any, are appropriate, necessary, or regarded as likely to yield benefits to the community and the resort. If this annual review identifies kinds of development that should be considered, the Municipality will consider amending the Official Community Plan.
In 4.13.7 :
- any development which proposes resident housing targeted at short term residents should comply with the following: the site be within close proximity to Whistler Village or Whistler Creek; the development provide rental accommodation which is proven to be affordable to short term residents; that the rental units not be tied to an employment situation; that development favour 2 bedroom apartment or townhouse units, with lesser 1, and 3 bedroom and studio apartment or townhouse units; be full apartments not dormitories; provide suitable private storage and parking space; and
- any development which proposes employee housing which is targeted at semi-permanent or permanent residents should comply with the following: be within close proximity to existing open space, parks and community facilities; provide ownership opportunities for first time home buyers; comprise a mix of townhouse, duplex and single family units; be neighbourhood developments which provide neighbourhood amenities; integrate into existing residential neighbourhoods with similar building form; provide suitable private storage space and parking space; and be proven affordable to semi-permanent and permanent residents.
This particular rezoning application fails to meet multiple criteria laid out in the OCP and should not be given any further consideration until those criteria are met.
Reasons for Opposition