$1 million covers some of RMOW’s commitment to transit facility 

Whistler's mayor and councillors still doesn't know exactly how much the municipality owes for the multi-million dollar transit facility being built by B.C. Transit near Nesters.

One year since construction crews first broke ground, B.C. Transit has not released the capital budget even though the Resort Municipality of Whistler is required to foot 53 per cent of the bill.

Despite this uncertainty, council unanimously gave municipal staff the go-ahead during Tuesday night's public council meeting to spend over $1 million of federal and provincial funds on their half of the construction costs.

The one-time funding - totaling $1,227,673 - is coming out of the federal government's Public Transit Agreement and the provincial government's Public Transit Infrastructure Program. The money must be spent on capital transit expenditures before April 2010.

Following municipal staff's presentation, Councillor Eckhard Zeidler asked: "What is this transit facility costing us anyway?"

"I honestly don't know," answered Emma DalSanto, the municipality's transport demand manager coordinator.

B.C. Transit and the municipality have an agreement where Whistler is responsible for 53 per cent of costs associated with core transit services - but the municipality is not on the hook for any costs associated with the hydrogen component or any upgrades associated with the Olympics.

The facility is designed to hold up to 50 buses, including the 20 state-of-the-art hydrogen buses coming to Whistler this fall as part of a provincially-federally funded pilot program to showcase hydrogen technology.

After Tuesday's council meeting, Mayor Ken Melamed added that council got a preview of the transit facility's construction budget during a closed-door meeting last spring but they haven't received an update since then.

"We will be getting an update now that they are further along in the project," said the mayor. "It is our understanding that it is under budget."

He added that B.C. Transit will be speaking to council in October.

Construction is well underway on the facility being built near the municipal works yard, north of the village. The bus hub is slated to open its doors in January, in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Once complete the bus facility will be 100 per cent owned by B.C. Transit.

DalSanto said the municipality got special permission from the Union of B.C. Municipalities to use the governments' transit funds for this project.



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