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Council Briefs

Sewer grant only possible if health at risk - Chong

Mayor Ken Melamed is not confident that Whistler will get an infrastructure grant to hook Alta Lake Road residents to the municipal sewer this year.

His comments come on the heels of a meeting with Ida Chong, Minister of Community Services, in Whistler on Sept. 23.

Chong told elected officials that the $102 million Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund is oversubscribed. That fund is cost shared evenly by the federal and provincial governments.

“She basically said unless there’s a proven environmental or health risk, there’s fairly little chance of getting it,” said the mayor after Monday’s council meeting.

“The news, while it wasn’t a direct ‘no’, I took it as being not particularly encouraging. But we’re going to continue to pursue it actively because it is a commitment we’ve made to the residents.”

Alta Lake Road resident Florence Petersen said she’s hopes the municipality will keep on trying to get money for the sewer, which has been promised to them for years.

“They’ve got to keep trying,” she said.

Despite allegations the septic systems are leaking into Alta Lake and changing the composition of that lake, water tests to date have not revealed any health or environmental risks, said the mayor. The municipality will now test the septic systems on Alta Lake Road for leakage.

Melamed said the municipality will still apply for the infrastructure program and if they are not successful this year they will continue to apply in subsequent years. The project, which would bring a sewer line to the last 40 homes not on the municipal system, will cost more than $3.2 million.

The September meeting with Chong means Whistler representatives will not be meeting the minister at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ annual meeting this month.


Tight timeline for upgrade

It will be challenging to meet the timelines set out for the multi-million dollar sewage plant upgrades, according to a municipal engineer.

James Hallisey outlined to council the tight timelines associated with the $34.6 million project.

By the end of 2007, according to Whistler’s operating certificate with the province, the plant must be on biological phosphorous removal rather than the current chemical phosphorous removal.

“It going to be a challenge,” said Hallisey.

Three months later, by March 31 2008, Whistler must have the project completed as per the agreement for the $12.6 million from a Canada/British Columbia infrastructure grant.

At Monday’s meeting council approved an almost $1.9 million contract for the engineering services to Vancouver-based Stantec Consulting. Theirs was the lowest bid of four companies vying for the contract.

Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden asked if the upgrades could be done to meet the two pressing deadlines with the balance of the work completed after the Olympics.

Hallisey said in conversations with Stantec that Whistler may not save any money by waiting until after 2010. The timeline, however, has not yet been set.

The multi-million dollar project will improve the quality of the effluent discharge, eliminate odours at the property lines and ensure that there is enough capacity for the population.

All significant parts of the upgrade must be complete by November 2008 to allow 14 months of plant operation before the 2010 Olympics.


Ask council at town hall

Whistler council is all ears.

A town hall meeting has been scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Telus Conference Centre.

Mayor Ken Melamed said the meeting will be a casual, informal sharing session with a rotating roundtable discussion. There will be lots of opportunities to ask questions or raise concerns. For those members of the public who would rather submit written questions, those can be directed to until Thursday, Oct. 12.

Melamed said council will take the ideas and suggestions generated at the meeting to the Whistler 2020 task forces as well as the budget planning meetings.

A social will follow the town hall meeting complete with a cash bar.

The town hall meeting will run in the Harmony Room from 1 to 3:30 p.m.