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Residents want asphalt updates over long council hiatus

Council meets for the last time in three months

A handful of new owners at Cheakamus Crossing don't want council to forget their asphalt plant concerns during their long hiatus from public meetings.

December 15 marked the last scheduled council meeting for three months as work shifts to focus on the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The next scheduled public council meeting is March 23rd.

New Cheakamus Crossing homeowner Judy Bonn asked mayor and council how they would communicate with the more than 200 owners over the next three months when there are no scheduled public meetings. Specifically, she is looking to find out how negotiations to move the asphalt plant by June 1, 2010 are unfolding.

"There's a multitude of options," said Mayor Ken Melamed about keeping people informed. He listed the municipal website, through the owners' contact list and through the Facebook site.

"I think we'll be using as many of them as we can," he added, trying to assuage Bonn's concerns.

Melamed said the municipality has already engaged a consultant team to work on the issue of relocating the plant.


Council wants chamber to justify money request

Council approved $170,000 in a fee for service agreement with the Whistler Chamber of Commerce but was reticent to give more without justification for the cash.

In order to get the extra $20,000 in funding that it was looking for from council the chamber must first report back with the reasons why it is working on a recruitment and retention strategy in the upcoming year,

Councillor Grant Lamont asked why the chamber can't sustain itself with its 800 strong member base.

Keith Bennett explained that the Whistler Chamber does not operate as other chambers. It is charged with special tasks like the Spirit Program, because Whistler is a resort town.

"The Whistler Chamber of Commerce is not a fly by night organization," said Councillor Eckhard Zeidler, who said there are hundreds of other things that he would cut from the budget before cutting the chamber loose.

Tom Thomson echoed the praise.

"They return a great bang for the buck," he said.

In total the chamber is looking for $190,000 in a fee for service agreement with council. The bulk of the money will go towards service, delivering things like the Spirit Program.

The $20,000 in recruitment and retention is intended to allow the chamber to lobby government on labour related issues and help employers address long term human resource needs.

Council clears way for large Fairmont spa

The Fairmont Chateau Whistler got the nod from council to move ahead with its large spa.

With no objections at Tuesday's public hearing, council moved the development plans ahead in the rezoning process.

Mayor Ken Melamed was the lone holdout in his opposition to the more than 20,000 square foot project.

He later explained that he had several concerns about the spa project but they weren't shared by council. Among his concerns were the spa meeting sustainability goals and the outdated formula used to calculate the Fairmont's employee housing contribution with this added square footage.

"Those were just questions I had and I don't think we explored it enough," said the mayor.

"I believe that there was probably a way to make the project work and meet some of our employee housing needs in the community."

The Fairmont's general manager, Roger Soane, spoke about the importance of bringing a large spa to his hotel.

"I think it will put Whistler on the map as a spa destination," said Soane at the public hearing.

"I believe that this type of tourism is a growth industry."

It's an industry too, that isn't weather dependent.