The Whistler Off Road Cycling Association (WORCA) has some certainty under its tires — at least for the next three years.
At the Jan. 26 meeting of Whistler council, a fee-for-service application submitted by WORCA was approved, ensuring $50,000 in guaranteed funding for each of the next three years.
The increased funding — more than double the $21,000 WORCA received last year — will help with WORCA's trail rejuvenation efforts, more specifically with the creation of a well-planned and solid maintenance schedule.
"We're going to be working on all the high-traffic trails — because obviously those are the ones that the visitors are going to see most — and just making sure they're in very good, sustainable conditions, and that everyone has a good time," said Nina Cairns, WORCA's director of trails, in a phone call prior to the council meeting.
Since 2011, WORCA's membership has grown from 1,500 members to 1,800, Cairns said — an increase of 19 per cent.
"About 30 per cent of all the summer visitors are bike riders, and that's about 40,000 people, so what we want to do is make sure that they get a good product," Cairns said.
"And WORCA is very committed to the concept of well-maintained trails that are suitable for all non-motorized users... that's very important to us."
Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said the service WORCA provides to the municipality is significant.
"WORCA is providing this much-needed service to the municipality, and in return the municipality will be giving WORCA the certainty of knowing what their funding will be from us for the next three years," she said.
Coun. Jack Crompton offered a similar thought, calling the proposal a "no brainer" for the RMOW.
"It just makes sense," he said. "These trails are as valuable a recreational asset as our parks and beaches... I'm extremely enthusiastic."
EVACUATION PLAN ENDORSED
The RMOW has endorsed an Evacuation Plan add-on to its Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan.
The Evacuation Plan — which will replace the 2009 Draft Evacuation Plan — provides clear directions to assist decision makers in the event of an emergency.
"The plan includes quick reference guides to assist staff in quickly organizing an evacuation," said RMOW emergency program coordinator Erin Marriner, in a presentation to council on Jan. 26
"This was something that we felt was lacking in our previous versions — the ability to do it really quickly — so this plan provides a lot more detail to get things off the ground really quickly."
The plan is an "all-hazard" plan, meaning it can be used for any type of emergency, Marriner said.
The plan was developed by a working group made up of representatives from RMOW Infrastructure Services, Whistler Fire Rescue and Whistler RCMP with input from Whistler Transit, Whistler Blackcomb and the RMOW's Measuring Up Committee.
In putting it together, the group identified 32 potential hazards in the municipality before narrowing the list down to 16 that could cause an evacuation.
It accounts for both evacuation and "shelter-in-place" measures (which asks residents to remain inside and close all windows and doors).
"We included (the shelter-in-place) plan as it's been used more often," Marriner said.
"Recently it was used for the dock fire in Squamish and also for the port fire in metro Vancouver."
The plan follows the provincial standard of a three-phase evacuation process: evacuation alert (putting the public on notice), evacuation order (meaning the public is at risk and must leave immediately) and evacuation lifted.
If an evacuation order were to be issued, the information would be shared in a multitude of ways, Marriner said.
"For an evacuation alert and order, we would make every effort to do door-to-door notifications for people that were affected," she said.
"We would also use public address systems on fire trucks and police cars, we'd have lots of information on the website, social media, (and) we'd do media briefings, radio and TV broadcasts and posted notices."
In the event of an emergency, the plan asks that residents follow the instructions of emergency officials, gather personal belongings (if time permits), lock their homes and head to the nearest Emergency Social Services reception centre.
The RMOW has also put together an evacuation map — available for viewing at www.whistler.ca/services/emergency/emergency-program — that identifies 22 evacuation zones divided by neighbourhood.
"We did this just to build on the public's existing familiarity with their neighbourhood and their location," Marriner said.
"Each zone has a neighbourhood muster point, so this would be for people without vehicles to access transportation."
Perimeter control points would be set up at the entrance and exits of each neighbourhood to prevent people from re-entering.
HOME-BASED STUDIO BYLAWS ADOPTED
If all goes according to plan, artists will be able to apply for Temporary Use Permits to sell art from their home-based studios by early March.
At its Jan. 26 meeting, council adopted three bylaws related to home-based studios.
The next step is to convene a committee before accepting applications.
"I am going to ask staff to convene a meeting of artists in the very near future so that we can review what the purpose of these three bylaws was and what we anticipate the next steps to be," Wilhelm-Morden said.
"I think there's been a little bit of confusion out there with some of the artists."
Also at the Jan. 26 meeting, council adopted a rezoning bylaw for the Whistler Housing Authority project on Cloudburst Drive, as well as a Board of Variance bylaw that increases application fees and assists property owners through the application process.
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