Annual Report omissions lead to questions 

Council briefs: Whistler signs on to regional transit MOU; Council salaries increased to offset tax change

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF BC TRANSIT - Signing on The Resort Municipality of Whistler has signed on to the regional transit MOU.
  • Photo courtesy of BC Transit
  • Signing on The Resort Municipality of Whistler has signed on to the regional transit MOU.

While council officially received the Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) 2018 Corporate Plan and 2017 Annual Report at its June 19 meeting—which highlight council's stated priorities, corporate goals and strategies, as well as the RMOW's audited 2017 financial statements—Councillor Sue Maxwell noted some omissions over last year's report.

"Last year in the plan there was actually a responsibility for staff to enact the Community Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP), but I see that that's been taken out, and I was just wondering why?" Maxwell asked.

The formation of a Zero Waste Committee and CECAP committee are also missing as action items, she noted.

The RMOW is working on putting a Zero Waste Committee in place, and has a number of initiatives already underway from the CECAP, replied Chief Administrative Officer Mike Furey.

"We had (the Zero Waste Committee) on as our sort of spring initiative, but we have, particularly in the infrastructures division, quite a lot of priority tasks that have required some immediate action," Furey said.

When it came time to vote on receiving the Corporate Plan and Annual Report, Maxwell was opposed.

The documents can be found at www.whistler.ca/corporateplan.

WHISTLER SIGNS ON TO REGIONAL TRANSIT MOU

Communities in the Sea to Sky are one step closer to regional transit as Whistler is the latest municipality to sign on to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in regards to the system.

The MOU contains four key principles: maximizing the sustainability of the service; fair distribution of costs among communities; positive and simple customer service; and providing a viable alternative to travelling by car in the corridor.

"One of the big deals that was identified by the provincial senior staff was to choose how we were going to administer this regional service, and there was really two competing examples," said general manager of infrastructure services James Hallisey at the June 19 council meeting.

The two examples are a regional transit commission, which would consist only of the affected communities, or having the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) hold the contract and subcontract to the municipalities.

Staff is recommending the regional transit commission approach.

"The purpose of this commission is solely going to be running regional transit, it's not going to have any other distractions or other purposes, so we felt that was an advantage," Hallisey said.

BC Transit proposes starting the service with about 15,000 hours per year (eight buses running on the highway) and growing to 25,100 (12 buses) over three years.

"That's six round trips per day between Mount Currie, Pemberton and Whistler, and six round trips per weekday, actually slightly reduced weekend service, from Whistler, Squamish down to Metro Vancouver," Hallisey said.

The service is expected to cost $3.6 million a year to begin with, and growing to $6.1 million annually after three years.

Full budget implications and potential cost-sharing scenarios are still being discussed.

"The dates we've been talking about to potentially have buses on the road are in the fall of 2019," Hallisey said.

"The last conversations I've had indicate that that's still possible, but we can't let this go too much longer before some decisions get made to still have that date achieved."

MAYOR AND COUNCIL SALARIES INCREASED TO OFFSET FEDERAL TAX CHANGES

Also at the June 19 meeting, council adopted a pay increase for local elected officials to offset an upcoming federal tax change.

"Currently, local government elected officials have a federal tax exemption for one third of their salary. In the 2017 federal budget, the Government of Canada announced the elimination of this exemption, effective Jan. 1 2019," said director of human resources Denise Wood in a presentation to council.

"The removal of this exemption effectively reduces the net pay for council members. To avoid a reduction in council members' net pay as a result of the tax change, an overall salary increase is required."

The mayor's salary will increase from $86,739 to $97,310, while councillor salaries will increase from $35,072 to $38,178.

Whistler's council salaries are determined based on the average of those in six comparable Lower Mainland municipalities: North Vancouver, Port Moody, White Rock, Maple Ridge, Langley and Port Coquitlam.

The salaries are reviewed and updated every four years, in the last year of each council term.

"Not all of those six comparable municipalities have determined their remuneration for 2019 yet, or how they'll deal with the changes to the tax (exemption)," Wood said.

"The HR standing committee of council recommends deferring the (review) ... until 2020, allowing time for those six comparable municipalities to complete their remuneration policy reviews."

WHISTLER BREWING COMPANY PATIO GETS APPROVAL

An application from the Whistler Brewing Company (WBC) in Function Junction for a new 16-seat patio received council's approval on June 19.

Council's resolution will now go to the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch for approval.

"Our patrons are a mix of tourists and locals and we go to great lengths to ensure that alcohol consumption is moderated. We have been operational since 2009 and have never received any form of noise or other complaints from neighbours," wrote WBC general manager Jennie Kwasnecha in an application letter to the RMOW.

"The addition of the patio will not alter the way we conduct our business but will continue to provide a place for our community partners to enjoy and guests to our town to experience what Whistler is all about."

A development permit for the patio will be presented to council at a later date.

Maxwell was encouraged to see the owners will not be using outdoor heaters—a frequent topic of discussion whenever patio approvals come before council.

"I just want to say thank you to the applicants for not proposing propane outdoor heaters," Maxwell said.

CREEKSIDE PLAZA GETS DEVELOPMENT PERMIT

Redevelopment of the Creekside Plaza is set to begin after council approved a development permit for the project at its June 19 meeting.

Proponents Creekside Plaza Ltd., owned by Dan Jekubik and family, plan to demolish the existing Rosie's House/Boston Pizza building and replace it with an entirely new structure.

The new building will feature two commercial units on the ground floor and four, one-bedroom employee housing units on top.

No official date has been set for demolition of the old building, Jekubik said in an email, but the proponents are preparing the site for a full demolition sometime in July.

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