VANOC offers cash to pave Lot 4 

Council balks at spending contingency fund

Council appears unwilling, at this time, to accept a sizable cash contribution from VANOC to pave one of the day skier lots if it means more spending from municipal coffers.

In a deal presented to council Tuesday night, VANOC has offered to give Whistler $700,000 to pave Parking Lot 4 - a project previously unconsidered in the upgrades to the day skier lots.

The municipality, however, must come to the table with $625,000. Staff proposes getting that money from the contingency fund in the $4.6 million budget to pave lots 1, 2, and 3.

And according to Councillor Eckhard Zeidler that's "yet another gift... that is going to cost us money.

"I'd like to see that money stay in the bank," he added.

"It's an attitude that I think we need a little bit more of."

Council held off on making a decision Tuesday until it had more information, but at first blush the majority balked at the spending, even if it was spending from money already budgeted.

Over the last six months Administrator Bill Barratt has been in negotiations with VANOC, working on the deal. Council was first aware the deal was in the making was when it read Tuesday's council agenda.

When Councillor Chris Quinlan asked why VANOC was giving Whistler the money, Barratt explained:

"(VANOC) would like to see it paved for the operations for the Games."

VANOC was not available for comment this week to answer Pique's questions about where the money was coming from in its budget, why they offered it to the RMOW and how crucial the paving was to its Games-time operations.

The day lots are to be VANOC's transportation hub during the Games.

The municipality's long-term vision for Lot 4, said Barratt, calls for the lot to be paved.

With VANOC's $700,000 contribution, and negotiations with the contractor, Whistler Excavations, Barratt said he managed to shave off roughly $850,000 in project costs. But, the municipality has to come to the table too.

Whistler's contribution was to come from the $900,000 contingency fund in the $4.6 million budget to pave lots 1, 2 and 3. That would leave almost $300,000 in the fund for any unforeseen costs.

"It's distinctly reducing our contingency but I'm not looking for any additional funds to complete the project at this time," project manager James Hallisey told council.

That wasn't the point, according to some councillors. Money from that fund, if leftover, was to flow back into the municipality's general fund.

"I'm not in favour of supporting this either," said Councillor Ralph Forsyth.

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