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Anti-big-box bylaw considered in Whistler


Whistler residents will get a chance to speak next week on a bylaw to keep mega-retailer London Drugs out of Whistler Village.

A public open house on the proposal is planned on Monday (June 6), from 4 to 6 p.m. in Council chambers.

London Drugs has submitted a rezoning application to the Resort Municipality of Whistler seeking to clear the way for a 17,000-square-foot store in Whistler Village Centre, in the heart of the Village. But at its May 16 meeting, Council passed first reading of an amended bylaw that would limit retail outlets in the Village, Village North and Upper Village to 5,000 square feet.

While lawmakers unanimously supported first reading of the bylaw, Councillors Nick Davies and Kristi Wells both said at the May 16 Council meeting that they wanted to hear what the public has to say before proceeding further.Meanwhile, the general managers of two large Whistler hotels have expressed their concern to Whistler Council about the RMOW's initiative to limit the size of retail outlets in Whistler Village to keep London Drugs out.

Paul Tormey, GM of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, merely says the issue "should be approached with extreme caution" and requests the chance to be part of the discussion on the move to limit new retail outlets to 5,000 square feet.

Victor Burt, GM of the Westin Resort and Spa, in a letter to Council dated May 12, also urges caution on the issue but is more vocal in his support for London Drugs, which he says "represents a rare economic opportunity for this community to address the affordability and environmental benefits of keeping shoppers in Whistler."

Burt also mentions that London Drugs' proposed design "appears to fit very well with the existing look of the Village," and adds that the company has committed to follow the pricing of its store in West Vancouver for its entire inventory.

"The in-village location will also make the store very accessible by foot for the tourists and the residents that work in the Village. I believe I am not alone in the hospitality industry and as a resident in asking Council to move with extreme caution on approving the retail cap," Burt wrote.

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