Commercial and Light Industrial

Chapter 5

What it’s about

Addresses supply and positioning of Whistler’s mixed-use commercial and industrial centres to complement Whistler’s mountain character and meet the needs of the community and tourism economy.

Whistler has a well-located and well-established distribution of mixed-use commercial and light industrial centres that are complementary to Whistler’s mountain character and support the diverse needs of the local community and tourism economy. Each of these centres has a distinct role, character and mix of uses that are supported by ongoing monitoring, sub-area planning and community input. Public spaces and unique local businesses contribute to community character and a sense of belonging, social interaction and the overall experience of visitors. High quality mountain design, architecture, landscaping and green building practices are common in all developments. A balanced supply of commercial and light industrial space supports ongoing optimization, maintenance and reinvestment in existing developments. Developments are connected by transit and the Valley Trail, and other initiatives to reduce automobile trips and encourage walkability have been successfully implemented.

Commercial recreation activities on-mountain, and outside of Whistler’s developed areas, have also been considered as part of the overall commercial offering supported by the resort community.

Recognizing the linkages and interdependencies between Whistler’s various commercial and industrial activities, and related demands on other land uses, facilities and services including employee housing, Whistler has been able to able to maintain a comfortable balance and preserve its mountain resort community character.

Whistler has an established hierarchy of mixed-use commercial centres based on historic development patterns and the resort community’s evolving needs. Commensurate with the buildout of Whistler’s visitor and residential accommodation bed base and the associated growth in Whistler’s visitation and population, the amount of developed commercial and light industrial space has significantly grown, with significant expansions and new locations added over the years. These have included the expansion of Whistler Village, the development of Franz’s Trail in Whistler Creek, the expansion of Function Junction, a new convenience commercial centre for the Rainbow neighbourhood and the addition of the Nesters Crossing industrial development. There have also been ongoing expansions and additions to on-mountain facilities for Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains.

Overall, the current supply of developable commercial and industrial space is considered to be largely congruent with commercial demand and the capacity of the tourism economy with strong commercial performance. Over the next five years, any new development proposals should be carefully considered relative to Whistler’s growth management policies, recognizing buildout of existing approved locations, and supporting the potential for local convenience commercial to serve the day-to-day needs of the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood.

Whistler’s predominant centre is Whistler Village. The master planned Village was strategically located at the base of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains and established as Whistler’s town centre within Whistler’s first OCP in 1976. The Village North expansion (north of Village Gate Boulevard) developed through the mid-90s has been fully integrated as part of the Village including the addition of Whistler Olympic Plaza. The plaza, site of the medals ceremonies and a legacy of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, is a major public destination for a wide array of activities and cultural programming, anchoring the north end of the Village and providing a counterbalance to the mountain’s base area. The Upper Village, separated by Fitzsimmons Creek, is seen as an extension of the Village with enhanced connections and attractions including the Squamish-Lil’wat Cultural Centre and the highly successful Whistler Farmers’ Market. With the addition of the Audain Art Museum, and investments in the Cultural Connector, the Skate Park and bike skills area, cultural and recreation activities are being further integrated within Whistler’s core.

As a major asset and destination for the majority of Whistler’s visitors and residents, it is important that Whistler Village continues to evolve and provide a high quality, authentic experience. This requires ongoing collaboration and investment by the municipality and the private sector with a focus on ensuring that the Village remains relevant and interesting to the local community.

Whistler Creek, Whistler’s secondary core commercial area, is located at the south base of Whistler Mountain, the original ski base area. This area, situated in a gateway location, has a number of distinct developments that require better integration to create a stronger destination. As a major base area with adjacent visitor accommodations, this area has not yet achieved a successful offering or vibrancy as an attractive destination. There is significant potential to strengthen this historically important area with a unique identity and sense of place distinct from Whistler Village. This should be pursued through a focused and coordinated effort, giving consideration to redevelopment and infill housing opportunities within the core commercial area and surrounding neighbourhood. The addition of the Creekside Base as a downhill mountain biking venue will help support year-round activity, and other creative programming and unique activities suited to this area should be considered and supported.

Whistler’s other commercial centres are oriented to convenience commercial uses, personal services and food and beverage uses to meet the day-to-day needs of residents and visitors. Nesters and Rainbow are designated as expanded convenience commercial centres scaled to serve the broader community and multiple adjacent neighbourhoods. Alpine Market is a local convenience commercial location scaled to meet the needs of the immediate neighbourhood. Additional convenience commercial should be considered within the second phase of development of the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood to meet the growing day-to-day needs of this resident neighbourhood and its further expansion.

In addition, on-mountain retail and food and beverage facilities serve Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain visitors. It is important that these facilities complement base area commercial developments in Whistler Village and Whistler Creek and that all areas provide a consistently high level of guest service and experience.

Whistler has two areas designated for service commercial and industrial activities: Function Junction and the Mons area. These areas provide space for essential back-of-house activities that support the needs of the local community and Whistler’s tourism economy.

Function Junction, originally developed as Whistler’s industrial area, has evolved over time into a general business district, and is Whistler’s primary location for light industrial, service commercial and retail sales of hardware, household goods and building supplies. The area has continued to evolve incrementally with a broad and interesting mix of businesses that are mainly oriented to serving local businesses and residents, and that are not well-suited to the core commercial areas. Unique manufacturing and servicing activities, many related to skiing and mountain biking, reinforce Whistler’s mountain culture and, along with other unique local businesses, add to the character of Function Junction as a creative district. Function Junction now also has significant indoor recreation activities and employee housing, which are further altering the nature and character of uses.

With the evolving nature of uses, the addition of the new First Nations development site, the expansion of the adjacent Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood and limited remaining development potential, it is important that any further changes in land use or development density be given careful consideration to address further potential impacts on traffic, parking and pedestrian circulation, as well as on the back-of-house space needs of the resort community.

Whistler’s second industrial area is centrally located in the middle of the community in the Mons area, encompassing a number of development sites located in close proximity of each other. These sites include public facilities and infrastructure, such as the municipality’s public works yard, the recycling and waste transfer facility, BC Transit and BC Hydro work sites, as well as private developments in the Nesters Crossing subdivision located on the west side of Highway 99 and Mons located on the east side of Highway 99. These sites primarily serve community infrastructure needs that benefit from the central location in the community and larger parcel areas, and include heavy equipment, storage, transportation, distribution, utility and works yards. As some of these uses have transitioned to this location from Function Junction, it is important that the space needs associated with these uses are maintained. Any proposed changes in uses need to be carefully considered and consistent with current uses.

To maintain and reinforce Whistler’s mountain character, Whistler’s industrial areas should be well-landscaped and screened from views along the highway corridor. In some locations, this requires augmentation of existing landscaping. Whistler should also restrict its industrial activities to the two existing locations, carefully managing uses and available development capacity in these locations to protect back-of-house space needs.

With a balanced supply of commercial and industrial space, largely congruent with commercial demand, there are strong occupancies, rents, and commercial performance, supporting new investment and reinvestment in properties and facilities. However, linkages between Whistler’s commercial and industrial activities, the number of jobs and employees, and the need for employee housing, must be recognized and addressed. Many existing businesses are understaffed and not fully operational due to a current shortage of housing, which in turn affects customer service and visitor experience. This needs to be addressed through Whistler’s employee housing initiatives and strategies to achieve a balance with commercial activity. Understanding the dynamic relationships between new business growth, changes in uses and interrelated land use demands is instrumental in maintaining Whistler’s mountain character and comfortable capacity.

Click the ‘Objectives & Policies’ to display additional content.

5.6. Goal Maintain a hierarchy of complementary commercial and light industrial centres each positioned with its own distinct role, character and mix of uses tailored to reinforce Whistler’s mountain resort community character, meet the needs of the community and support the local tourism economy.

5.6.1. Objective

Maintain a balanced supply of commercial and industrial space and associated land uses. Policy

Over the next five years, carefully consider any proposed additions of new commercial and industrial space that is not currently zoned in order to ensure it complements existing developments, meet an identified need, support to the unique mountain experience, and address associated employee housing needs and growth management policies relative to balanced resort and community capacity. Policy

Consider small amounts of space for local convenience commercial, personal services and food and beverage uses in appropriate locations within or adjacent to existing neighbourhoods to enhance livability, walkability and social connections, and reduce automobile trips and GHG emissions. Policy

Support additional space for convenience commercial, personal services and food and beverage uses in the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood to meet the growing day-to-day needs of this resident neighbourhood and its further expansion. Policy

Limit industrial and back-of-house land uses to Function Junction and the Mons area and seek to maintain space for storage, warehousing, wholesaling and distribution activities helping to minimize vehicle trips outside the community and support related commercial activities. Policy

Consider establishing a location for storage of heavier, seasonal and infrequently used equipment in an out of the way location that does not impact views and is compatible with the surrounding area. Policy

Evaluate any proposed rezoning for additional space or changes in use for consistency with the intended purpose and role of the location, compatibility of the surrounding area, the potential displacement of other essential uses, and potential impacts on the vitality and success of other existing developments. Policy

Consider conflicting land uses with respect to odours, noise and air quality when mixing residential, commercial and industrial land uses. Policy

Do not support further commercial and industrial development with frontage along Highway 99 beyond currently designated developments as shown in Schedule A. Policy

Consider development of on-mountain commercial facilities to meet the needs of mountain guests, benefit the resort economy and complement Whistler’s core commercial areas. Recognize associated back-of-house space needs, employee and housing requirements. Policy

Support planning initiatives to strengthen existing centres and provide for Whistler’s ongoing evolution and associated commercial and industrial space needs. Policy

Recognize and plan for the commercial activities that are located outside of Whistler’s commercial and industrial centres, largely associated with outdoor recreation. Policy

Seek to ensure the community has the capacity to support business operations maintaining a high level of service, including development of an adequate supply of employee housing. Policy

Seek to provide employee housing for a stable workforce in balance with commercial activity through Whistler’s housing initiatives and strategies.

5.6.2. Objective

Maintain a high quality of development that reinforces Whistler’s mountain character. Policy

Apply development permit guidelines to achieve high quality urban design, architecture, landscape architecture and green building that reinforce Whistler’s mountain resort character. Policy

Seek to enhance the character and local culture of Whistler’s commercial areas. Policy

Seek to ensure that Whistler’s industrial areas and developments are adequately screened from public views; rehabilitate and maintain vegetated buffers to protect and enhance the visual quality along Highway 99. Policy

Work collaboratively with property owners and the business community to support rejuvenation, reinvestment and the ongoing success of Whistler’s commercial areas. Policy

Support sustainable management and use of materials, energy and water in Whistler’s commercial and industrial developments. Policy

Encourage all new buildings and renovations to be built with environmentally sustainable methods, standards and technologies including by implementing the BC Energy Step Code and addressing water conservation. Policy

Support provision of adequate space within developments for waste reduction (recycling and composting) operations and services. Policy

Require developments to meet municipal wildfire mitigation guidelines. Policy

Support mechanisms to ensure Bear Smart principles are followed in commercial and industrial areas.

5.6.3. Objective

Reinforce Whistler Village as Whistler’s town centre, functioning as the commercial, cultural, entertainment and social hub of the resort community. Policy

Reinforce Whistler Village as the primary multi-use centre with a wide variety of retail, office, service, food and beverage, entertainment, recreation, leisure, institutional, cultural and visitor accommodation uses. Policy

Maintain the ambiance of Whistler Village as a people-friendly, pedestrian-oriented environment. Policy

Support a variety of experiences and interesting places within Whistler Village, working collaboratively with businesses and property owners and applying successful place-making principles. Policy

Maintain investments in public spaces, landscaping and programming. Policy

Ensure public spaces are safe and accessible to everyone, aesthetically pleasing and comfortable social spaces. Policy

Support initiatives that help to tell the rich story of the history and culture of the Lil’wat Nation and Squamish Nation and their relationship to the Whistler region. Policy

Support ongoing investment in the Cultural Connector. Policy

Pursue strategies to support the success of unique local businesses. Policy

Monitor and consider mechanisms to manage the mix and character of retail and food and beverage uses in locations along the Village Stroll to maintain the mountain village scale and character, and provide a unique visitor experience, including:

  • (a) Limit retail store sizes and encourage opportunities for local businesses;
  • (b) Use zoning to protect important food and beverage locations, and associated outdoor patio areas, that provide animation and vibrancy in key locations adjacent to public spaces;
  • (c) Consider limits on restaurant sizes;
  • (d) Consider restrictions on office and personal service uses in locations along the Village Stroll. Policy

Pursue initiatives that reinforce Whistler Village as a place that is relevant to residents, encourages residents to use Whistler Village and supports a sense of community. Policy

Facilitate use of the Village’s network of squares, plazas and other public spaces for festivals, events and other programming consistent with the characteristics of each location. Policy

Facilitate the evolution of the retail streetscape to create a visually interesting and dynamic environment reflecting Whistler’s mountain resort character. Policy

Support storefront improvements, merchandising and activities that create visual interest and unique offerings and enhance the Village streetscape experience. Policy

Encourage reinvestment, enhancement and redevelopment of Village properties and public spaces to maintain a high quality built environment that is comfortable, attractive and universally designed. Policy

Support a variety of entertainment and recreation activities, including activities that are family-oriented. Policy

Provide convenient and well-maintained public washroom facilities and drinking water facilities. Policy

Work with relevant agencies to maintain a safe and comfortable inviting Village experience. Policy

Manage liquor licensing to support a wide variety of food and beverage offerings and maintain a safe and friendly atmosphere. Work with relevant agencies and stakeholders to reduce negative impacts of liquor-related issues associated with late-night entertainment uses. Policy

Work to address potential impacts associated with federal legalization of cannabis. Policy

Support transportation strategies and investments in the Whistler Village area that reduce automobile traffic and encourage preferred modes of transportation. Policy

Address the transportation needs of late-night service workers.

5.6.4. Objective

Integrate the Upper Village as a visitor-oriented extension of the Whistler Village pedestrian experience. Policy

Recognize the Upper Village as a unique extension and a key component of the Whistler Village core commercial sub-area. Policy

Encourage retail, dining, food and beverage, entertainment and service uses specifically serving adjacent visitor accommodation and the Blackcomb Base area, while also serving as a broader resort community destination. Policy

Maintain strong pedestrian experiences and connections to Whistler Village, the Squamish-Lil’wat Cultural Centre and adjacent amenities. Policy

Encourage reinvestment in the public spaces and quality of the retail streetscape in this area. Policy

Support programming of public spaces that adds vitality to the experience in this neighbourhood, such as the Whistler Farmers’ Market and the Family Activity Zone.

5.6.5. Objective

Strengthen the sense of place and vibrancy of the Whistler Creek core commercial sub-area as a mixed-use destination for visitors and residents, anchored by the Creekside ski base and Whistler Creek neighbourhood area. Policy

Encourage a range of visitor and resident accommodations, restaurants, retail, entertainment, leisure, and convenience goods and services uses. Policy

Seek to better integrate the Whistler Creek sub-area, including the Creekside Base, Creekside Village commercial, highway gateway commercial and Lake Placid Road extension, to Nita Lake Lodge. Policy

Encourage renovation and redevelopment of commercial and multi-family accommodation properties to enhance the attractiveness, character and experience of this sub-area. Policy

Consider the potential for multi-family infill housing with increased densities in this sub-area and the adjacent neighbourhood to provide needed employee housing and add critical mass to this neighbourhood. Policy

Investigate the potential for Lake Placid Road to evolve into a commercial and residential mixed-use street. Policy

Encourage investment and programming at the Creekside Base to enhance the visitor experience and strengthen Whistler Creek as a resort community destination. Policy

Support collaborative planning for the Whistler Creek sub-area.

5.6.6. Objective

Strengthen Function Junction as Whistler’s general-purpose business district with a broad mix of uses that are not well-suited to locate in Whistler’s core commercial areas and mainly serve local businesses and residents. Policy

Maintain Function Junction as the primary location for service commercial, light industrial, wholesaling and retail sales of hardware, household goods and building supplies. Policy

Support compatible retail, office, services and indoor recreation uses that primarily serve the needs of Whistler’s residents and businesses and do not duplicate uses that are principally located in Whistler’s core commercial areas. Policy

Monitor the ongoing evolution of Function Junction, including the character and quality of development, trends in uses, development and redevelopment potential, parking, pedestrian and vehicular circulation, and user amenities. Policy

Encourage enhancement of the area through renovation, redevelopment, property maintenance and investments in user amenities. Policy

Review and seek to simplify zoning designations consistent with intended uses. Policy

Support employee housing in existing approved locations. Policy

Monitor auxiliary residential use to ensure compatibility and safety with co-located light industrial uses. Policy

Encourage creative local businesses that support Whistler’s mountain culture. Policy

Protect, rehabilitate, maintain and augment vegetated buffers to screen Function Junction development from Highway 99.

5.6.7. Objective

Maintain centrally located lands in the Mons sub-area for back-of-house, industrial and service commercial uses. Policy

Maintain lands in the Mons sub-area for community infrastructure needs that benefit from the central location in the community and require larger parcel areas, including works yards and utilities, transportation, distribution, heavy equipment and storage. Policy

Contain the back-of-house and industrial uses within existing locations, comprised of sites for municipal facilities and operations, BC Transit, BC Hydro, the Nesters Crossing subdivision and the original Mons industrial area. Policy

Address non-conforming land uses and development in the original Mons industrial area consistent with historic uses and community needs. Policy

Carefully consider any proposed changes in uses to ensure compatibility with existing uses, ensure that essential back-of-house needs of the resort community are not displaced, and that the proposed use supports the local economy and community objectives. Policy

Ensure that the appearance and attractiveness of the Mons sub-area is consistent with Whistler’s desired resort community image and character, and does not detract from the surrounding area, while supporting the permitted industrial uses on site. Policy

Rehabilitate and maintain adequately sized vegetated buffers to screen developed areas to protect and enhance the visual quality along Highway 99. Policy

Mitigate and manage noise and light disturbances associated with permitted uses to minimize their impact on the surrounding area.

5.6.8. Objective

Maintain well-located convenience commercial developments that meet the day-to-day needs of Whistler’s residents and visitors. Policy

Support larger scale convenience commercial uses within Whistler’s core commercial areas that serve both visitors and residents. Policy

Recognize Nesters Square and Rainbow as locations for expanded convenience commercial developments scaled to serve a larger market area beyond the immediate neighbourhood. Policy

Recognize Alpine Market and Cheakamus Crossing as locations for local convenience commercial areas scaled to primarily meet the day-to-day needs of the immediate neighbourhoods. Policy

Ensure that all convenience commercial developments are designed to complement the surrounding neighbourhood and reinforce the resort community character, including considerations related to pedestrian connections, traffic, access and parking, and scale and massing of development. Policy

Allow for limited auxiliary commercial uses associated with visitor accommodation, parks and recreation uses.

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