Sunstone Ridge gives up on SLRD

Proponents waiting for Pemberton boundary expansion to move forward

By Jesse Ferreras

Proponents of Sunstone Ridge have had it with the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.

Cam McIvor, president of Ravens Crest Developments and one of the biggest shareholders in the Sunstone Ridge development proposal, said last week the group has had enough of waiting for the regional board to approve its plans and will put its development on hold until the Hillside lands are incorporated into the Village of Pemberton.

“We’ve had no success with the regional district whatsoever,” McIvor said.

A boundary expansion application by Pemberton is currently before the Ministry of Community and Rural Development. The Hillside area and properties such as the Rutherford Creek Power Plant on Highway 99 and various tracts along Airport Road will be included within the Village of Pemberton if the boundary expansion is approved.

In addition to collecting taxes from the properties, expansion will allow the Village of Pemberton to make land use decisions about them. Currently the SLRD board, with representatives from communities such as Whistler, Squamish, Lillooet and Pemberton, makes land use decisions for the Hillside.

Pemberton has a particular interest in the Hillside area, a rather controversial property that has repeatedly been a source of conflict at the regional table.

Sunstone Ridge proponents want to build a recreational and residential neighbourhood on 400 hectares that will have a mix of single-family homes, multi-family townhouses, neighbourhood commercial property and a recreational complex. Stakeholders in the proposed neighbourhood include Ravens Crest, the Sabre/Brio Group and the Lil’wat Nation.

An international private school is also part of the proposal. GEMS Education, a Dubai-based company that has built schools all over the world, wants to set its North American roots down in Pemberton.

But the proponents have lost faith that the SLRD board will ever approve their project, so they’re waiting until the authority is transferred to the Village of Pemberton.

Previously, McIvor pointed to Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed as the one who spearheaded SLRD board opposition to the Sunstone Ridge development.

Speaking in an interview last week, Melamed told Pique that he questions whether there’s any real demand for housing of the kind that Sunstone Ridge wants to put in Pemberton – but the amount of housing is in question because the developers haven’t been able to get a neighbourhood plan approved by the SLRD board.

Still, drawing on the experience of the Howe Sound East area, which includes communities like Furry Creek and Britannia Beach, Melamed worries that a development could go forward without serious demand for the housing.

“One of the reasons that a number of other directors supported the motion not to forward the NCP (neighbourhood concept plan), it’s in response to the reality of what’s happening in Howe Sound East,” he said.

“A number of developments were approved because of the implied demand, the inferred demand by developers, but are sitting there undeveloped and incompletely developed at an inconvenience to early residents there.

“Specifically Furry Creek… is part of a masterplanned community that has not been fully realized. It started many years ago, now the residents there are having to shoulder the cost of infrastructure that was meant for a much larger community.”

Asked what kind of demand there is for housing at Sunstone Ridge, McIvor said he didn’t actually know, but that the greater issue is that the Village of Pemberton should be making planning decisions about the Hillside.

Asked to comment on Melamed’s concerns about demand for housing, he said, “I would suggest that Mr. Melamed has enough to worry about in his own community and he should focus his attentions there.”

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