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A look under the hood of the RMOW budget: Utilities and services

Here’s what the municipality is spending on water, sewer and waste
Whistler’s Wastewater Treatment Plant is getting more attention in next year’s budget.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is proposing a “nuts and bolts” budget for 2024 that is light on major new projects while leaning into infrastructure and reserve-building.

That’s in keeping with the mild community feedback the RMOW got back from an early budget survey, which indicated residents want the municipality to focus on the core responsibilities of the RMOW by keeping service levels where they are.

So what are those core responsibilities? The nuts and bolts: Water and sewer management, waste management, roads, transportation, and infrastructure.

In the RMOW’s budget as it exists in preliminary form, officials forecast a $92.2-million operating budget, a $24.1-million capital budget, a $24.3-million utilities budget and a $20.2-million utilities capital budget.

The tax increases proposed are intended to funnel cash into projects, operations, and reserves, with an overall 8.18-per-cent property tax increase, a five-per-cent increase for utilities, a four-per-cent increase for water and seven-per-cent for sewer.

Coming from the RMOW’s sewer capital reserve in 2024 is $8.32 million across 15 projects. None of them are sexy, but they’re in line with the community’s wishes to focus on services.

The projects include infrastructure upgrades, improvements, maintenance and conditions assessments—with a majority related to the Wastewater Treatment Plant’s various needs.

Meanwhile, officials are tapping the Solid Waste Capital Reserve for $1,823,000, the majority of which is taken up by $1.52 million to replace aging infrastructure, including for a new truck scale plaza at the Whistler Transfer Station which, according to the RMOW, will “elevate the level of service provided by the RMOW to the transfer station customers.”

On the same line of garbage, $90,000 will come from the Solid Waste Operating Reserve for community outreach—meaning the RMOW will undertake efforts to “create community behaviour change achieving zero waste community goals and targets,” likely in the form of community surveys and/or information flyers and signage.

Over in the last big utility, water, $8,693,000 from the Water Capital Reserve will pay for annual upgrades across the network, with the big expense coming in the form of $3,713,000 for water pump station upgrades at the South Whistler Water Supply Project.

According to the RMOW, that project is in the implementation phase, and will improve the utilization of the water available in south Whistler at both Cheakamus Crossing and Function Junction wells. Also included in the project is the design and implementation of additional water treatment at the 21 Mile Creek water source to improve corrosion protection.

Another seven-figure expense is $2,550,000 for high-priority works to replace some infrastructure in the water system between the village and Nicklaus North, which, according to the RMOW, is due to soil that is corroding valves in the pipes. Also included is planning, design and implementation of water main upgrades in Creekside, Tapley’s to Crabapple and Tamarisk due to aging infrastructure.

Last but not least in a nuts-and-bolts look at the project list for 2024 is transportation, which includes everything to do with roads (that fall under the RMOW’s jurisdiction). With $2,225,000 coming from the Transportation Works Charges reserve, $1,590,000 is going to everyone’s favorite: Small capital works. This broad category is everything from curb repairs, winter maintenance equipment and traffic calming works, or everything you’d notice if it wasn’t up to snuff. Another item people notice more when it’s broken is paving work, which comes in under this project.

Finally, the RMOW has budgeted some $2,143,000 for its ongoing fleet replacement schedule, with that funding appropriately coming from its Vehicle Replacement Reserve.

The municipality has 150 vehicles in its fleet, and in 2024 it anticipates adding 15 trucks, a new 15-passenger van, new snowmobiles, an aerial lift and more. The new vehicles will take the place of vehicles that have come to the end of their service life.

All documents related to the 2024 budget are available on the RMOW website at