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Whistler non-profits to benefit from new RMOW agreement

The municipality signed value-in-kind lease agreements with four groups that bring value to Whistler
BC Conservation Officer Service vehicle.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) approved four value-in-kind lease agreements with four organizations that operate in the community at the March 19 regular council meeting.

Defined by the RMOW’s general manager of community engagement and cultural services, Karen Elliott, as “a benefit provided by the RMOW to local non-profits in recognition of services they provide that benefit our community,” value-in-kind is essentially a waived lease agreement for them to operate within RMOW facilities.

The four groups to receive the agreements in 2024 are the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE), the Conservation Officer Service (COS), the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council (SSISC), and the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program (WASP).

“All of these organizations provide programs or services that council considers desirable to help us reach our Official Community Plan goals,” said Elliott, explaining partnerships with groups offering services not provided by the municipality are key to creating “a thriving community.”

“Often municipalities can’t deliver everything,” she said. “We don’t have the expertise, or the resources, or the budget, so we turn to really valuable community partners to do that on our behalf, and we make sure that they’re aligned with our policy and our goals.”

Elliott explained an assessment of the office space provided to the four groups was done in 2022, and as an existing lease was not in place, they were asked to make an application. Notably, her report said as RMOW office space is at a premium and the four groups were already using the space, such a value-in-kind agreement was not proposed to be expanded beyond the four recipients.

Three of the non-profits share space in the forestry building in Cheakamus (AWARE, COS, and SSISC), while the fourth (WASP) uses space at Alta Lake South House. According to Elliott, the RMOW quantified how much office and shared space each was using and divided up the rental valuation between them based on floorspace used to calculate the value-in-kind agreement.

No money changes hands, with the agreement simply a way to value what the RMOW provides to the groups—with that number coming in at $54,027 between all four groups for the spaces before adding in hydro fees, which are also covered by the municipality.

The total value-in-kind provided by the RMOW to the four groups is $59,655 for 2024, as recommended by staff.

Elliott went into the value provided by all four groups to Whistler as part of justification on signing off on the agreements, noting providing space to the COS, which is a public safety provider, means a local presence in Whistler.

During questions, Councillor Ralph Forsyth queried whether there are other instances of local governments providing space for the COS, given they are another arm of government, to which Elliott responded often it is difficult for agencies to find a small enough office space to operate out of at a reasonable cost.

Chief administrative officer Ginny Cullen also chimed in.

“The key point on that is if we didn’t provide office space, their response time would be slower,” she said. “They would locate themselves out of another office in Squamish. This is to our benefit more than it is to theirs.”

The COS accounts for $11,142 worth of the 2024 value-in-kind funds while AWARE accounts for $12,760, the SSISC $7,137, and WASP takes up the lion’s share, at $28,616.

Councillors voted unanimously to support the agreements.