VANOC to take extra Whistler Workforce beds 

Whistler Workforce just got one step closer to becoming a reality.

This week, Mayor Ken Melamed announced VANOC will likely sign up for all the beds not claimed by Whistler businesses in the temporary Olympic housing project.

"Mr. Alvaro Ponce de Leon and his associates have come up with a proposed alternative for the project," said Melamed.

"They have been unsuccessful in securing the total number of beds and have asked VANOC of their interest in signing an agreement for the balance of the beds."

VANOC told the Whistler Workforce proponents they would require a letter from council endorsing the new use. That letter was granted on Tuesday.

Now, if all goes according to plan, the project's spokesperson John Jervis said the 300-bed housing project should be ready for occupancy this spring.

"I think VANOC is very critical in taking up the balance of the beds to make it affordable for everyone else," said Jervis.

Jervis was not able to say how many of the beds will go to local businesses, but said it is over the 50 per cent mark.

He added that work should begin on the project's site, also known as the Holborn property, within a few days.

"The housing module provider has been building the modules, and they are sitting and waiting to be brought up. It is very quick once the site is prepped and the foundation is ready," added Jervis.

Municipal officials could spend $3 million in Whistler

Tourist numbers may be down this year, but businesses can expect some relief in June. 

About 2,000 councillors and mayors from across Canada will descend on Whistler between June 5 and June 8 for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference.

Shannon Story, manager of legislative services for the municipality, said last year the council members spent between $3 million and $4 million at the FCM conference in Quebec. And already 1,897 hotel rooms have been booked in Whistler for the three-day event.

The conference will be held at the Telus Whistler Conference Centre, and a tent will be erected on the parking lot outside. "Break out sessions" will also take place in hotel spaces throughout Whistler.

Story said the municipality will pay about $350,000 for the event, though they are pursuing sponsorships to offset costs. FCM will pay for the rest.

The FCM conference is the largest annual gathering of senior municipal officials across Canada.

During their stay, the delegates will tour the Olympic venues, examples of resident restricted housing, the compost facility, the waste water treatment plant and the public library.

A gala dinner will also be held at the Roundhouse on Whistler and Rendezvous on Blackcomb.

On Monday, council discussed at length whether former councillor Bob Lorriman should stay as the municipality's representative on the board organizing the FCM conference. They finally decided that a councillor should be appointed chair and Lorriman could then be hired to help.

The former councillor spent a lot of time working on the conference during his last term on council.

Illegal suite found on Arbutus Drive

Another illegal suite has been found in Whistler - and council voted Monday to put a note on title of the property.

"There is absolutely a safety issue that is a concern when people go ahead and build these additions to their homes irrespective of the zoning issue," said Mayor Ken Melamed.

"We don't know that it is built up to code."

The Resort Municipality of Whistler found out about the secondary suite at 3250 Arbutus Drive on Feb. 16, 2008 through an e-mail complaint.

Two letters were sent to the owner, John Brunner, requesting access into the dwelling. On May 9, Brunner let two people enter.

The inspectors found a small, clean bachelor suite with a bedroom area, living room area, bathroom, and kitchen, complete with a stove, sink, refrigerator and microwave.

Because the construction does not follow Whistler's building regulations, the municipal employees informed Brunner that the suite would either have to be removed or brought up to code.

It is also the second suite in the house. A residence in Whistler is only allowed to have one suite.

Brunner did neither, according to Joe Mooney, manager of building services for the municipality.

Municipality wants to start new home energy program

RMOW is applying to another provincial program. This time the application is for $50,000 from the Community Action on Energy and Emissions (CAEE) Gold.

The money would be used to create an energy assessment and labeling program for homes in Whistler. A similar program is currently underway in Berkley, California.

Guy Patterson, housing planner for the municipality, reported that ideally home energy would be measured so people could use the information when buying a home or looking at maintenance.

The project would be done between the municipality, the Whistler Centre for Sustainability, and the Pembina Institute. And the Pembina Institute is applying for another $30,000 from a B.C. Hydro program for the project.

This would not be the first home energy project in Whistler.

The municipality's Home Energy Grants encourages homeowners to get energy assessments and performance upgrades so they are eligible for provincial and federal incentives.

Holborn delayed

The Holborn redevelopment project, which will see a world-class tennis facility built in Whistler, has been stalled because of the global financial crunch.

Mayor Ken Melamed reported that proponent Jimmy Yap said "with the economy right now, it doesn't make sense for us to proceed."

The project, which received third reading in May, should include indoor and outdoor tennis courts and a seniors' housing complex, all to be completed by 2016.

Holborn's property is located across from Market Square and is where the
Whistler Workforce Housing Project will go until the summer of 2010.

First Nations' lands officially designated Resort Land Trust

Council adopted an amendment to the official community plan on Tuesday that designates seven First Nation properties "Resort Land Trust," in anticipation of future development.

The properties, which all fall under the Legacy Land Agreement, include plots in Function Junction and Alpine Meadows, as well as three parcels at the entrance of the Callaghan Valley and two near Emerald Estates.


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