Animals, staff, volunteers get new shelter 

Increased construction costs boost price tag for WAG facility by $135,000

For a moment at Monday’s council meeting it looked as though the plans for Whistler’s new animal shelter were going back to the drawing board.

But despite calls from Councillors Kristi Wells and Nick Davies to delay the project for a further review, council finally approved the development permit for the new Whistler Animals Galore shelter.

"We’re so excited and relieved," said Carol Coffey, director of the animal shelter.

"It’s been such a long road."

Though the animals and WAG staff will likely be in the current drafty shelter for the first part of the coming winter, just knowing that their brand new home will be clean and warm and ready in the new year should get them through the first chilly months, she said.

"Just knowing that it’s happening now and that we just have to tough it out a little bit longer, that’s I think all we need to feel better about everything," said Coffey.

The new 2,500 square foot shelter will be tucked on a small plot of land in front of the bottle depot and recycling facility on Nesters Road.

The land, which is part of the municipality’s Public Works Yard, is already zoned for kennel use.

While the plot of land on the south-east corner is small, the shelter will be a quantum leap above the current rundown facilities in the day skier parking lots with its rickety walls and cramped quarters.

"The timing and the critical need for this shelter is now," said Councillor Marianne Wade, who pushed to get the development permit approved.

At Monday’s meeting however Councillor Wells expressed concern that the municipality wasn’t maximizing the best use of the land at the Public Works Yard.

She put forward an idea at the meeting to have staff examine the possibility of rearranging the entire site, including the bottle depot and the recycling facilities, to better accommodate all the uses on that land.

She said that this comprehensive look at the site could open up more areas and better utilize the space. This would be a prudent exercise she said in light of the ever-expanding recycling facilities.

Davies liked her idea.

"We’re spending taxpayers money here," he said, adding that council has an obligation to take a look at the site as a whole and bring the report back for consideration in a few weeks.

"The consistent theme has been that this site is too small (for the shelter)."

But the majority of council could not be swayed.

Wade said while there is a larger planning question about the future expansion of the bottle depot, a delay to develop an overall plan for that area could jeopardize the safety and well-being of the animals in the meantime.


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