Empty Cheakamus commercial space costs RMOW 

Interest in four units but no takers yet

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It's costing the municipality roughly $40,000 for the upkeep of four empty commercial spaces in Cheakamus Crossing.

The municipally owned space has been empty ever since it was used for the 2010 Olympic Games, but recently Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said there was some interest in one of the units.

"It's preliminary so I can't go any further than that," she said last week.

Realtor Drew Meredith, who along with Rob Palm at Whistler Real Estate, is trying to lease or sell the four spaces for the municipality, confirmed that work is ongoing to get the units filled.

"We're out there actively pursuing that on both fronts," said Meredith.

"We've had some activity. Nothing's stuck to the wall yet."

He said there is more interest in the three smaller units. The largest unit, 2,400 square feet, is zoned for a restaurant/pub.

The $38,500 line item was listed in the draft municipal budget, presented to council last week.

It shows a cost of $35,000 for the strata fees on the four spaces as well as $3,500 in utilities fees like hydro.

The properties are not taxable unless they are leased to a taxable entity.The municipality created a holding company — Cheakamus Leasing Corporation — to own and manage the properties.

New ice resurfacer to go electric

Council is considering upping the budget for a new electric ice resurfacer by an extra $60,000. That brings the total budget of the new resurfacer to $170,000.

The numbers to make the switch, though they may be higher upfront, are compelling in the long-term, according to Roger Weetman, the municipal manager of recreation services, as it's hoped the electric version would be cheaper than the propane version of the resurfacer.

Staff estimates that an electric resurfacer would reduce maintenance costs by $32,000 over the course of the machine's 10-year life span.

"The hydro costs to recharge the battery will be $2,500 over the ten years versus $43,000 for propane," added Weetman.

Beyond the general operating savings in maintenance and fuel, there's increased efficiencies in that staff don't have to go and get propane every two or three days and they don't have to run exhaust fans at Meadow Park. On top of that are the reduced emissions.

Weetman called it a "no brainer" of the decision to switch to electric. The technology too has come a long way in recent years.

"We looked into this shortly before the (2010 Olympic) Games but the battery technology wasn't quite there, but now... it's come a long way. I think it's going to become, quite frankly, the industry standard."

The Meadow Park Sports Complex is due a new machine to maintain and clean the ice. The current machine is ten years old and powered by propane.

It is scheduled for replacement this year. As per standard practice, the municipality has been putting money aside for the replacement over the past decade. The extra $60,000 is slated to come from reserves.

Weetman is hoping to buy the machine as soon as possible pending council's approval of the 2012 municipal budget.

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