Ironman set to return for fourth year 

Council briefs: 'Pod' hotel moves ahead; defeated motion revisited

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - IRONMAN RETURNS Race officials are gearing up for the return of the Ironman triathlon to Whistler on July 24.
  • File photo
  • IRONMAN RETURNS Race officials are gearing up for the return of the Ironman triathlon to Whistler on July 24.

Eight weeks out from the fourth instalment of Ironman in Whistler, and preparations are on track for another successful event, race director Evan Taylor told the RMOW council in a presentation May 17.

"Once again we are well into planning... and things are looking good as usual," Taylor said, adding that registrations are about on par with last year.

New this year is the Ironman 70.3, also known as a half Ironman.

"We added the 70.3 event because the Ironman event is a challenging event... we wanted to also open up this area of Whistler and showcase that to 70.3 athletes as well," Taylor said.

"We've seen some tremendous success of that addition in other events."

A guide to how the event will impact traffic should be appearing in people's mailboxes shortly, and will look similar to last year's, with sections of Highway 99 and local roads closed for several hours.

Despite rainy conditions at last year's Ironman, it didn't throw a wrench in operations, Taylor said.

"We managed to get all the roads open on time or even earlier last year and so we're hoping to have that same success this year except do it under sunny skies," he said.

Earlier in the day, Taylor also presented to Pemberton council.

Coun. Jennie Helmer raised the concern that Ironman participants need more porta potties.

"Last year people were already into using fields," she said. Taylor replied that they would make a point of notifying participants further on Facebook to use facilities provided.

Taylor said future plans haven't changed and Ironman is looking to host the event for next year and discussions will begin after the 2016 event concludes.

For more information in this year's event head to www.whistler.ca/ironman.

'POD-STYLE' HOTEL MOVES AHEAD

A new style of accommodation is moving ahead in Whistler Village after council approved a development permit for the project at its May 17 meeting.

The Pangea Pod Hotel, as it's called, seeks to offer "pod-style" accommodation for solo travellers to Whistler.

Proponents Russell and Jelena Kling hope to transform the former timeshare properties at Whistler View into a slick, chic offering not currently available in the village.

The plan is to convert the units into 13 smaller shared units — "pod-style" units, each with more than one single bed.

There will be bathrooms and shower facilities in each unit, as well as ski and bike storage, a common laundry facility, a café and support space for office, janitorial and storage.

The proposal first came to council in December 2014, when council approved a covenant modification for the property.

The most recent permit approval will allow the Klings to move forward with exterior enhancements to the building.

"I love this," said Coun. Jen Ford of the proposal. "I love the redesign, I love the whole concept... hopefully it works with the business type that they're hoping to have here, but I think that this is fantastic."

Coun. Jack Crompton agreed.

"I think it embraces a different way of travelling that we don't currently serve, so I'm enthusiastic about it as well."

WHISTLER VILLAGE CENTRE IMPROVEMENTS PROPOSED

While the old Whistler View is set for a facelift, some noticeable changes are planned just around the corner as well, at the Whistler Village Centre located at 4295 Blackcomb Way.

At its May 17 meeting, council approved a development permit that will allow retail-level building enhancements, public-space enhancements and landscape alterations on the property, which is comprised of three buildings containing commercial and hotel spaces.

"The development was constructed 22 years ago, with no significant upgrades since that time," said senior planner Melissa Laidlaw in a report to council.

The improvements will be focused on four areas: the frontage along the village stroll, the pond area in the village common, skier's approach and the courtyard area in between the buildings.

The project aims to improve sightlines, realign pedestrian routes, remove overgrown trees (replacing them with more appropriate plants) and create a better ambiance for the public spaces in the area.

Details are still being finalized, and the property owners will have to apply for building permits before construction can begin.

DEFEATED MOTION REVISITED

At the last meeting of council on May 3 — with Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden and councillors John Grills and Steve Anderson absent — a split vote at the council table denied a flood-proofing exemption for a property in Cypress Place.

Councillors Sue Maxwell and Jen Ford originally voted against the proposal, citing concerns with how the RMOW's "illegal spaces" bylaw was being interpreted, while Jack Crompton and Andree Janyk voted in favour.

But in a phone call ahead of the May 17 meeting, Wilhelm-Morden said that with three absent voters at the last meeting, she felt it was worth revisiting.

"I watched the debate on the computer when I got back, and there were some expressions made by some of the councillors there that they wished that they had the benefit of some of the other councillors' views," Wilhelm-Morden said.

In the second vote on May 17, the exemption was approved 4 to 2 (Maxwell and Ford each voted against, reiterating their position of not wanting to set a precedent in the neighbourhood; Wilhelm-Morden was once again absent).

"I understand that we're going to have a report back (on how the bylaw is being used), but currently, under today's rules and guidelines, the applicant is playing within the parameters," Coun. John Grills said before voting in favour.

"That's the challenge I have, is saying no to something where they're meeting all the requirements."

Acting Mayor Steve Anderson said he checked with staff and found there have been 18 similar applications in the past, 17 of which were approved and one withdrawn — a point Crompton touched on as well.

"I don't think that dealing with one individual application in a way that differs from what we've done in the past helps people understand how to deal with local government," Crompton said.

"I am enthusiastic about getting the report back to us... and moving forward methodically."

As for the discussion around the intent of the bylaw, Wilhelm-Morden said she's happy with the work done on illegal spaces to this point, but there is room for improvement.

"Certainly there is some tweaking and some additional work that needs to be done to our bylaws, and I've been talking with planning staff about that," she said.

CONTRACT AWARDED FOR NEW OLYMPIC RESERVOIR

Construction of a new Olympic Reservoir is set to begin after council awarded a contract for the work in the amount of $4,372,219.42 to Carver Construction, Ltd at its May 17 meeting.

Carver's bid was the lowest of four received by the municipality.

The contract will require an amendment to the recently adopted Five-Year Financial Plan to include additional funds in 2016 ($510,000) and 2017 ($260,000).

The current Olympic Reservoir is nearing the end of its design life, does not meet current structural standards for seismic design and is showing signs of deterioration.

The RMOW hopes to have the new reservoir operating by the fall of 2016.

The work will take place on Whistler Mountain adjacent to the Singing Pass Trail and behind the bus shelter at the Village Gondola Exchange.

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