Dec 1, 2001 | Marmot, Winter 2001

Mt. Washington Local Area Plan Passes Unanimoulsy

A significant step toward the future development of Mt. Washington was achieved in October, when the Regional District of Comox-Strathcona unanimously passed the Mt. Washington Local Area Plan.

The plan, will allow the mountain to develop 2,200 units with many design and expansion conditions. The previous development ceiling was 750 units, and Mt. Washington was already at 550 units, Resort General Manager Peter Gibson said.

“What the Local Area Plan does is address all the issues,” like water, sewer, buffers between the resort and Strathcona Provincial Park, etc., Gibson said. “It’s a very strong planning document and I think it’s got a strong ‘green’ message to it.”

The planning process began twelve years ago and underwent several transformations before City Spaces signed on in the summer of 2000 to help. Regional director Kel Kelly became involved with a planning team, with an eye on environmental concerns, as did the resort owners advisory committee – making sure property owners also had a say in the process.

Jay Oddleifson, Mt. Washington Director of Finance and planning, has devoted the last two years of his life to the Local Area Plan, trying to ensure that Mt. Washington remains one of the most environmentally sensitive family resorts in Canada.

“The resort development here will be market-driven,” Oddleifson explained. Expansion will only happen so long as the mountain resort has the business. “The LAP and other planning allows us to have a pretty good idea as to how we want to see (development) happen, where we want it to happen and how we want it to happen,” Oddleifson said.

Design guidelines have been put into place to achieve a high standard of design – both architecturally and with landscape in mind, he said. The plan is proactive with developers and investors, not reactive – “It gives us a lot more control over the quality of resort we’re going to achieve.”

The plan dictates that the resort will develop detailed secondary plans to establish a clear definition of land use and expansion. It also allows for a uniform set of environmental and design standards that will create a desired ambience, he said.

As part of the detailed planning a resort-wide analysis was conducted, covering such areas as drainage, sewage, streamside protection, vegetation and disturbed areas, greenways, wildlife and infrastructure.

Now that the LAP has passed fourth reading at the regional district, the next step is to complete this secondary planning and make presentations to regional district directors. Oddleifson hoped to have that process finished before Christmas.

“The valley and surrounding communities should all be proud of this,” Oddleifson says. “We’re going to do something up here everyone’s going to be proud of.”

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