RMOW protects viability of Olympic village 

Rainbow project must stick to schedule or sell after athletes village units

By Alison Taylor

Whistler’s mayor is cautioning Rainbow’s developers to stick to their 2009 timeframe in order to protect the municipality’s own housing project at the athletes’ village.

“We’re not prepared to just keep extending (Rainbow),” he said this week. “It can’t go past 2009.”

The municipality’s guarantee that the developers will stick to their tight timelines is through the business deal, which has yet to be approved.

As per the original agreement, the business deal sees the Whistler Housing Authority backstop the project, meaning it will buy the lots for $110,000 each if the developer cannot sell them to people on the WHA waitlist.

“The position we’ve taken is that if they’re not ready by a fixed date, we won’t purchase those lots,” said the mayor.

And, if the homes aren’t ready according to the schedule, they won’t go on the marketplace until after the athletes’ village is sold, sometime following the 2010 Olympics.

“The potential result would be that the developer is going to have to finance and carry his project for three or four years longer than they expected. That may make it uneconomical for the developer. We don’t know. That’s going to be there choice.”

The mayor’s comments Tuesday morning came on the heels of an update to council on the progress of the Rainbow housing development, which is supposed to deliver roughly 220 units of employee housing including single family homes, duplexes and apartments, phased over the next three years.

The project, said Bob MacPherson, the municipality’s general manager of planning and development, is under tough, aggressive timelines.

Developers have promised to deliver 50 units — a mixture of single family and duplexes — by Christmas 2007. The remaining units will be up for sale in 2008 and 2009.

Developer Rod Nadeau reiterated his commitment to that schedule again this week.

“I’m working really hard to make that happen and so are a lot of people,” he said. “All the pieces are starting to fall in place in time with our schedule, which is great.”

Their intention, he said, is to build the houses and sell them on schedule and never have the WHA buy anything. But council was told Monday night that there isn’t much “wiggle room” if things go wrong.

There was a pregnant pause in the mayor’s office Tuesday morning when asked about the potential fallout of not sticking to the schedule of this much-anticipated project.


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