Additional beds approved for Phoenix Housing Project 

Another critical piece on the Phoenix temporary housing project fell into place on Monday night when council gave third reading to a bylaw that allows up to 294 beds on the Holborn property.

That means more employers will be able to house their workers in the converted shipping containers between November 2008 and April 2010, to get them through Whistler’s anticipated housing crunch leading up to the Olympics.

“We had a request for 500 beds, we are currently zoned for 210, we need the additional space for 294,” explained Louie Lundy, president of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, at Monday’s public hearing. The rezoning application which allows for the additional beds received third reading later that evening.

“This is an opportunity where the stars have literally aligned and come together in a short period of time. From our end, we have done everything we can possibly do.”

Businesses have already signed leases and handed over their deposit checks for the 294 beds, priced at $650 a month. And American company SG Blocks has purchased the shipping containers and is currently outfitting them in their factory. Once the interiors are complete, the units will be shipped to Squamish and moved to Whistler by either truck or rail.

Site preparation work on the Holborn lands is expected to begin in July, and Lundy has indicated the containers should be placed on foundations in September.


Plans to borrow money continue

On Monday, councillors set the wheels in motion to create a temporary bylaw to allow the municipality to borrow $100 for the athletes’ village, the future Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood.

Council has already authorized the Resort Municipality of Whistler to borrow the money earlier this year, and the new bylaw was needed only for the lawyer of the Municipal Finance Authority, where the municipality plans to borrow the funds.

The $100 million will be used to bridge the gab between when the village is constructed by the Whistler 2020 Development Corporation this year and next, and when the housing units are finally sold after the Whistler Olympic Games. Members of the WDC have previous stated that they do not intend to use the total $100 million.

The province has agreed to lend Whistler the money at the preferred provincial government rate via the MFA. The rate will be estimated at the cost of funds plus eight basis points, but the exact rate is not yet known.

Borrowing the $100 million has drawn public criticism, including comments from former councillor Ted Milner that the municipality may be putting taxpayers at risk.


New financial manager at municipal hall announced

Lisa Landry has been appointed the new general manager of economic viability for the Resort Municipality of Whistler, following the departure of Diane Mombourquette in March.

Mombourquette was with the RMOW for a year before she decided to leave Whistler and work at the new Black Rock Resort in Ucluelet on Vancouver Island. At that time, she told Pique Newsmagazine her move was not related to the controversial property tax increase.

Her replacement, Landry, has been working as the manager of fiscal planning for the RMOW and has been heavily involved in balancing the municipality’s 2008 budget over the past three months.

In her new position, Landry will not only be in charge of the annual budgeting process, but also the finance department, human resources, information technology (IT) legislative services and strategic alliances.

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