Rainbow alive and moving ahead
As one of the “project partners” of the Rainbow development, we would like to provide the Whistler public with some information on the current status of the Rainbow development.
Contrary to a recent report, the Rainbow development is very
much alive and well, is making good progress and is certainly not “stalled”. We
recognize the importance of the resident housing to Whistler residents and we
continue to be fully committed to completing the development as quickly as
possible. We were told our attendance at last Monday’s council meeting was
not required from a senior staff member.
The Rainbow partners have spent over $5.5 million on the project in the past two and a half years and we continue to fund all aspects of the project (e.g. engineering, legal, architectural etc.). Negotiations are ongoing with two chartered banks and we expect to conclude a successful agreement with one of them in the next couple of weeks. Both banks required subdivision, or minimally municipal tentative approvals, and the last of these approvals were received from the municipality on Oct 17, 2007. This approval was originally expected in the spring.
The on-going process of securing construction financing and the subdivision approvals has not slowed down the progress on other components of the project. The normal bread and butter project work of design, engineering, planning, surveying and setting up for contracting has been ongoing in the background and we are very pleased with the progress of these aspects of the project over the past six months. A lot of good solid progress has been achieved and some more has still to be done. The engineering design has continued to make good progress and we have a number of difficult approvals in hand, e.g. the Highway 99 intersection and signalization and the roads and underground services designs for the two main public subdivision roads. Design of the strata roads and servicing has been submitted to the municipality and we are working on follow-up revisions that have been requested by staff in order to re-submit the designs. The whole of the 45-acre site has been surveyed with elevations taken for each lot. The complex issue of connecting to the municipal sewer system has also been resolved. The full length of the 3 km route of the sewer forcemain along Highway 99 to the connection to the municipal sewer near the old Boot site has been completed.
We have recently retained the services of a major civil contracting firm to provide us with an opinion on our construction budgets for the development roads and services. Crown land has been secured for the new off-site reservoir, and the requisite Department of Forests permit for the water line is also in hand. We have also engaged a recognized design-build contractor to provide us with a design-build proposal for the new reservoir and for the sanitary pump station and forcemain so that construction can begin next spring.
Progress on finalizing the legal documentation required for the development has continued to be much slower than we are happy with. Subdivision documents for 12 of the 13 main parcels (well over 160 separate documents) were submitted on July 20, 2007 with revisions on Oct. 11, 2007 and we are awaiting legal review comments from the RMOW legal team. Our lawyers were to meet with the RMOW lawyers on Nov. 20 but the RMOW cancelled that meeting so we are still waiting for a new date to meet.
The form and content of the housing agreements have been settled and we are again awaiting a draft bylaw. Finalizing of the housekeeping bylaw has been ongoing since the beginning of August of this year and we are awaiting the bylaw and hope that this can be completed very shortly.
The purchase and sale agreement for all the resident housing has been finalized and the two approved home builders remain eager to start building in the spring. The disclosure statement is complete. I will be heading up the real estate team that will be working with the housing authority staff on the resident sales program. The builders are finalizing their housing plans and prices and we will be opening up a display suite at Nesters in the New Year to begin the sales program.
The Rainbow partners remain committed to completing the development and as you can see, while there is more to be done, we have made good progress and will continue to work hard to complete the project. We know this development is important to the community and having lived here for 30 years and being involved with Rainbow for 26 years, we personally have a commitment to ensuring that Rainbow becomes a great neighbourhood.
Ann and Francis Chiasson
Partners, Rainbow Joint Venture
Get beyond the concept before building
This letter was addressed to the mayor and council. A copy
was forwarded to Pique for publication.
The Canadian Homebuilders’ Association Sea to Sky Chapter represents the construction industry in Whistler. Being that the majority of our members pay taxes in Whistler, we have a vested interest in how our community is built. We therefore have the following comments on the proposed development of Lots 1/9.
We understand while the RMOW has conceptual plans for the development, finished drawings are not yet available to be tendered. In the current Lots 1/9 scenario, cost escalation is a real risk, given the unfinished plans and the time constraint. Unless and until full project drawings are available, a contractor would be unable to enter into a fixed price contract. The reason for this is simple: until the scope of work is fully developed, the contractor is unable to price the project and lock-in to a fixed price.
In project management, we work within the triple constraints of quality, price and speed. These three constraints are competing constraints, wherein the actual delivery of a project focuses on the trade-off of one constraint against another. You can only ever achieve two of the constraints:
1. An increase in quality will negatively affect either price or speed.
2. A short schedule will negatively affect price and/or quality (ie. Lot 1/9);
3. A low budget will negatively affect quality and/or speed.
The best way to safeguard taxpayers’ money is for the RMOW to fully plan its work (ie. finished drawings), tender them, and then enter into a fixed price contract with the successful contractor to build the structure as planned and quoted. Where plans are incomplete, the option of a fixed price contract is eliminated.
There has been, in the past months, a large amount of negative press directed at the construction industry for cost escalations. The CHBA has not seen cost escalations as described in recent municipal projects, such as the proposed municipal hall renovation and the waste treatment plant.
The CHBA would be able to justify a 15 per cent increase over an original budget as an increase in construction costs. Any cost escalation above and beyond that 15 per cent is, in our view, fully due to a failure to properly or adequately define the scope of work. In other words, the original budget was established based on an undeveloped or incomplete scope of work. As the scope evolves, a realistic budget emerges. This is an entirely separate issue from escalating construction costs and cannot be blamed on the construction industry.
The local construction industry is, after Whistler-Blackcomb, the largest employer in Whistler. On average, construction wages are two to three times the rate of wages paid by other major employers in Whistler. We provide well-paying jobs to many people living in the Sea to Sky corridor.
There has been considerable press regarding construction cost escalation. While there is no doubt that the industry has seen some significant material cost increases and an upswing in labour costs these are in no way responsible for the gross cost over runs experienced by previous municipal projects. If design is driven by budget, the final cost will meet everyone’s expectation. With regard to Lots 1/9, if this philosophy is followed and time is taken to clearly identify all design details; we will have a facility that will meet everyone’s expectation.
Canadian Home Builders’ Association, Sea to Sky Chapter
Aversion techniques make sense
Lori Homstol is spot on with her letter on bear aversion — in my experience. Putting aversion tactics in place while allowing bears an escape route would condition them to avoid humans by running away and not attacking. Common sense says it is so and sounds like the evidence supports this concept. Give it a try and less bears will be shot.
Otaki, New Zealand
CRH sets the record straight
I would like to clarify inaccurate statements made in last week’s letter to the editor and address operating policies of Coast Range Heliskiing in regards to public use of lands.
As owner of Coast Range Heliskiing I hold the responsibility for making application for the areas North of Pemberton. The current tenure application does not and has never intended to include the popular ski touring area of Marriot Basin-Wendy Thompson Hut or the Cerise Creek-Flavelle Hut area. CRH operations have additionally implemented a no fly zone over these areas to respect the nature and use of these public non-motorized recreation areas.
The CRH commercial recreation tenure application that was submitted to MTSA was done so in consultation with the Sea to Sky Backcountry Forum. Consultation with the forum took place over approximately a two-year period prior to the current processing of the tenure application. The Backcountry Forum representatives included members from the Alpine Club of Canada, Federation of Mountain Clubs of B.C. and the Varsity Outdoor Club. All parties, including myself, spent considerable time discussing and consulting in regards to areas that would be reasonable for heli-ski activities and areas that were agreed to be maintained as high value public non-motorized use areas. Prior to submission of the CRH tenure application all parties signed off with agreement.
In addition to the extensive consultation process Coast Range Heliskiing also has an active avoidance policy with our field operations. We invite all members of the public to inform us of any backcountry ski travel plans in areas which CRH operates which then allows us to manage any potential land use conflicts. Our guides, as well, have the ability to amend our daily ski program when public users are anticipated or encountered.
Respect for public non-motorized use has always been of high consideration and value to the operations of Coast Range Heliskiing. On behalf of CRH I look forward to continue to actively participate in maintaining balance in the backcountry for all users.
Tyler Freed, Owner/Operator
Coast Range Heliskiing Ltd.
Condo owners: speak out
Re: Muni’s double tax dipping
As a condo owner in Whistler, I would like to say to the mayor
and council that I strongly disagree with the mayor’s contention that condo
strata properties have not been paying for the recycling service and the new
fee is a correction of that inequality.
Our complex has a building containing a garbage bin/compactor
and recycling boxes for paper, plastic, glass and tin cans which are picked up
and delivered to the waste recycling transfer station for us by Carney’s Waste
Systems. We are billed for garbage removal and tipping fees through our common
area charges. These tipping fees are paid to the muni for us by Carney’s, at
the transfer station.
Yesterday I drove through Bayshores, Creekside and Nordic to
survey other condo complexes and found 25 of 27 which also have the same type
of service. This represents 92 per cent of the multi-unit strata properties I
surveyed in these areas. I suspect this is true of other residential condos in
Under this tax, the muni would take in $28,000 from our complex
alone, over and above the fees it is already collecting from us at the transfer
station. This is an inequality. Is this council misinformed or do they just not
I encourage other strata complexes to voice their opinions to
Whistler RCMP deserve respect
Since the Taser incident at the Vancouver airport, and the recent murder of two young constables, the RCMP has been a regular subject of much informed and uninformed discussion both in the press and in places where people gather to socialize. As is often the case when disturbing events occur, we immediately criticize and look to place blame. There is no question in my mind that these events, indicate that there are issues that the RCMP and our governments must address regarding the structure under which and manner in which the RCMP operates.
That being said, it distresses me that our local RCMP members have been subjected to name calling and abusiveness on the part of the public. In both my work as psychologist and as a community volunteer, I regularly have contact and occasion to work with or require the assistance of members of the Whistler RCMP detachment. In my experience they are as a group, sensitive, and respectful and desire to be of assistance. Specifically, when they encounter behavior that could indicate an emotional or psychological problem they make a sincere effort to obtain proper medical assistance for the individual in question. Further, they try to do so in a way to minimize further trauma to the individual rather than subdue them by force.
I believe that the manner in which the Whistler RCMP detachment functions is a result of outstanding, caring leadership on the part of Inspector McPhail and his senior watch commanders. They set an example with their personal involvement in the life of our community and desire to involve the community members in solving the problems that they are there to address.
They are here because of our social problems and therefore their problems are also our problems. I encourage everyone to work with them rather than throwing things at them.
Dr. Stephen L. Milstein
Whistler Healthy Community Committee
Big changes on the horizon
The biggest thing to impact the Sea to Sky corridor over the next five to 10 years is not going to be the Olympics. It is going to be a re-shaping of our society based on the reconciliation of First Nation ownership of land outside the reserve.
Late last week the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the Tsilhqot’in First Nation has aboriginal title to approximately 200,000 hectares of its traditional territory. There are many complex aspects of this decision but two are particularly striking:
• Aboriginal title is an exclusive right to the land itself and
includes the right to choose how that land is used;
• Provincial jurisdiction does not apply on aboriginal title lands.
Take a moment and think about it. The Squamish Nation and the Lil’wat Nation assert aboriginal title to well over 600,000 hectares of land — most of which falls in the Sea to Sky corridor. Neither has ever signed a treaty extinguishing their aboriginal title. Neither are about to. Given this, the future is one where the balance of power in the corridor rests with the Squamish Nation and the Lil’wat Nation. Forget about business as usual. There are big changes on the horizon.
The decision will be appealed. So there may be a few more years of the status quo… but rest assured change is on its way. It will shake our corner of the world as we know it.
When I see those B.C. government ads encouraging people to “get active” or “eat some fruits and veggies” I get very confused. The white bread, fast-food, Diet Coke syndrome is only a small part of the puzzle that is leading to Canada’s obesity epidemic. I feel that the biggest cause is the sedentary, car-driven suburban lifestyle that has fueled the North American Dream since the streetcar suburbs were purchased by GM in the 1930s.
It does not make sense to me that the Campbell government is spending billions to build more highways and bridges around the province, while simultaneously buying advertising suggesting that we shouldn’t live the lifestyles created by the roads and bridges they are simultaneously building. This is not to mention the carbon consequences of building more freeways...
But I think even the RMOW, with is pandering discourse about sustainability, is sinking its “Natural Step” boat. For instance, I don’t understand how moving the only municipal garbage/recycling facilities further away from a town that offers no municipal garbage pickup is a natural step towards sustainability — how do they expect people to hop on the bus with their garbage?
I don’t understand how Kadenwood and its exclusive new gondola is a step towards sustainability.
I don’t understand how building more residences further than walking distance to the lifts is a step towards sustainability.
And I really don’t understand how Whistler-Blackcomb has the time to tout its sustainability practices when it’s busy filling up the stacks next to its water fountains with plastic and Coke cups... But maybe I’m just missing the boat.
The link between public health, climate change and transportation infrastructure is apparently lost on all levels of government. If Gordo and Co. were truly concerned about human health, climate change or sustainability, they would give Kevin Falcon a call and ask him if the ministry of transportation has every considered making the link... I’d be happy to elaborate.