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Tiny toads set to migrate once more

Council briefs: KOTG registration goes contactless; Tax sales deferred
Whistler’s tiny Western toads are set to make the leap to the forest surrounding Lost Lake in the coming weeks. File photo

One of Whistler’s favourite summer traditions is about to emerge from Lost Lake—with some added assistance from the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW).

Tens of thousands of tiny Western toadlets will begin migrating from the shores of Lost Lake to the forest in the coming weeks.

The RMOW has added new infrastructure including a toad underpass under the Valley Trail behind the events lawn and a toad boardwalk under the Blackcomb Creek bridge at the intersection of Lost Lake Loop and Cedar Way, said Mayor Jack Crompton at the July 21 council meeting.

“These are the first of several infrastructure upgrades that are planned to be built over the next few years. The RMOW has also installed a permanent migration corridor fence that safely guides the toadlets out of the park area,” Crompton said.

“In addition to the fencing, a number of temporary signs are being installed during the migration to advise the public where the toadlets are migrating. These efforts should greatly reduce the toadlet mortalities and help reduce trail closures and detours.”

The RMOW won’t be taking on volunteers this year to help with the toads because of COVID-19, Crompton added.

During the migration, which typically lasts two to four weeks, the Lost Lake access road and parking lot will be closed to all vehicle traffic, while the Ceach cut trail will also be closed when toads start to migrate.

The Lost Lake beach and adjacent lawn areas will stay open, but are subject to closures if the toads start using that as a migration route.

The RMOW has been monitoring the Western toads at Lost Lake since 2005, Crompton said.

“We’re very lucky to host such a large population of this sensitive species right here in our own backyard,” he said.

“Despite being barely the size of a dime, the Western toadlets are an integral part of the Lost Lake ecology.”



Registration for Whistler’s Kids on the Go (KOTG) afterschool program is going contactless.

“That means big news: no more lining up in the middle of the night to register for KOTG programs for the 2020-21 school year,” Crompton said at the July 21 council meeting.

As in previous years, families are asked to only register for the days they are certain they will use the program to ensure more families are accommodated.

“Families with children who attended KOTG from January 2019 to August 2020 need to email by Monday, Aug. 3, 2020 with all of their requested dates for this upcoming school year,” Crompton said.

“New families will be able to register for a waitlist position starting on Sunday, Aug. 29.”

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Also at the July 21 meeting, council gave all three readings and adopted a bylaw that will defer its annual tax sale to September 2021.

Under the Local Government Act, the RMOW is required to hold a tax sale each year on the last Monday in September. The sale is a public auction of properties in the municipality that have unpaid property taxes going back two years.

With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on personal finances, the deferral will offer additional relief for taxpayers.

It would be an “extraordinarily rare occurrence” that someone’s home is sold at a tax sale, said director of finance Carlee Price.

“We do our very best to ensure that we do reach out to the homeowner and that they have every opportunity to repay their back taxes and keep control of their property,” Price said.

“In the case where a property does sell, they do have one year following the date of sale to rebalance those accounts before ownership actually transfers, so it’s exceedingly rare.”

There are currently about 50 homes in the RMOW with two years of unpaid taxes.

Nearly half of residential property tax bills (46 per cent) were paid by July 2, compared to 69 per cent last year, according to an RMOW spokesperson, keeping in mind that no penalty will be imposed on unpaid taxes until Oct. 1 this year.