RMOW wants answers from Victoria 

Mayor looking for sign off on athletes village, financial tools this month

By the end of this month Mayor Ken Melamed is hoping to seal the deal with the province on some of Whistler’s outstanding Olympic legacies.

Meetings have now been set up with both provincial cabinet ministers and Premier Gordon Campbell for the end of March. Melamed is hoping at that time the province will sign off on Whistler’s business plan for the athletes village as well as resolve the long outstanding issue of financial tools.

"We expect by the end of the month we’ll have acceptance from the province on our preferred solution (for financial tools)," said the mayor this week.

"Whether the money’s going to start flowing on April 1 st I highly doubt (it) but we think we’re going to get final (approval)."

The information came in response to questions from Pique Newsmagazine’s G.D. Maxwell, who was looking for an update from the mayor at Monday’s council meeting on his 60-day action plan which was part of Melamed’s election platform in November. In that plan the then mayoral candidate pledged to resolve some outstanding issues with the province within his first two months in office, among many other things.

As for the issue of financial tools the Resort Municipality of Whistler, in collaboration with other B.C. resorts, has proposed a deal which would see them get a bigger share of the provincial hotel tax. Currently of the 10 per cent tax the province collects on every hotel room in B.C., the RMOW gets 2 per cent.

Whistler’s solution is a province-wide policy that uses a formula based on the ratio of tourist accommodation beds to the number of resident beds in the resort.

Even if the proposal is approved this month, Melamed couldn’t say when Whistler will start to see more money. It could require a legislative change, in which case Whistler may have to wait for the fall sitting of the legislature.

The athletes village, on the other hand, needs to be approved in time for a spring groundbreaking at the site in the Lower Cheakamus, the home of the landfill which is now being decommissioned.

Melamed said he could not share the details of the athletes village business plan, which was unanimously approved by council in a closed meeting as well as by the Whistler 2020 Development Corporation, the group responsible for the delivery of the village.

"There was a very good feeling in the room about the proposal," said the mayor.

He could not give details, he said, because it involves issues that might compromise the province.

"Like any business deal, the premier and his cabinet have made certain promises about the Games, as have we, and so we’re asking them to do some things that are slightly out of the norm and would require their approval.

"We’re not asking them to create brand new legislation or anything like that but there are some issues that need their approval. We can’t do it without them."

The March meetings are also expected to see some resolution to the outstanding issue of Class 1/Class 6 taxation disparities. Those disparities see some condo-hotel owners taxed more than three times higher than other condo-hotel owners based on whether their properties are classified residential (Class 1) or commercial (Class 6).


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