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After decades of visioning, nearly 1,000-unit Sea to Sky development may happen

Fine Peace Furry Creek Development Ltd. has succeeded in getting its rezoning application approved by the SLRD, giving it a chance to succeed where other developers have sputtered.
Map of the proposed development.

A decades-long vision of building a major residential golf-resort development may finally be on its way to becoming a reality.

A rezoning application four years in the making has been approved, giving Fine Peace Furry Creek Development Ltd. a chance to make good on a nearly-1,000 unit development in Furry Creek.

Multiple developers have tried to make the vision a reality, but those attempts have sputtered since the 1990s.

Furry Creek has a golf course and about 150 residential units, but the full build-out never happened as the land has changed hands.

Fine Peace is the latest owner, acquiring part of the land in 2017 and expanding its foothold in 2018. Now it has a real shot at succeeding where other developers fell short.

On Jan. 25, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District board voted unanimously in favour of adopting rezoning, Official Community Plan amendments and other bylaws related to Fine Peace's application.

The area will thus be rezoned into a CD-3 comprehensive development zone.

As a result, this rezoning has paved the way for the developer to build 750 residential market units, 120 non-market affordable residential units and 120 resort-hotel units.

There would also be 2,323 square metres of commercial space, a community centre, an administration office, a childcare facility, a transportation hub and 19.1 hectares of parks, trails and open space.

A new fire hall and public works yard, among other things, are also part of the deal.

The end result would be a sizeable community around the golf course that is perhaps most famous for being the setting of a showdown between Adam Sandler and Bob Barker in the movie, Happy Gilmore.

During the adoption of the project in January, there were no comments from elected officials. 

However, back in Sept. 28, 2022, when the project was given third reading, there were a few sparse remarks from elected officials. 

That day, only directors Jenna Stoner and Tony Rainbow, who respectively represent the District of Squamish and Electoral Area D, had comments.

Stoner acknowledged the years of work from staff, elected officials and the public on this project.

"I think it's really important to remember there were already development rights on this property, and I think through staff, with direction from the board, we've gotten to a really good place," she said.

"It's a much more forward-looking community than what was originally available to the developer. I appreciate the diversity of housing forms that are now presented. There are no fossil fuels going into any of this development. There are significant amounts of contribution to affordable housing."

She said these are things that the SLRD should be looking for in new large-scale developments such as this one.

Rainbow was the next to comment. 

"A couple of months ago, I had no idea of the opposition," he said.

Right after, he said that perhaps it was the wrong place to make that statement, and decided not to speak further.

Back in August, Rainbow presided over a public hearing where residents filled the multi-purpose room of Britannia Mine Museum. 

There, he heard comments from two main camps of people. 

One camp was clearly in favour of the proposal.

The other was composed of those who said they were not anti-development, but complained extensively about one or more aspects of the proposal.

Safety, traffic and environmental concerns were raised. Some questioned the location of the commercial space and others were worried about building heights.

One group of five discontented residents went as far as retaining a lawyer to represent them at the hearing. Most of the others with complaints represented themselves.

The largest group in favour of the project was represented by a person who said she spoke for 110 people living in Oliver's Landing, a townhouse complex by the beach in Furry Creek.