Budget for municipal hall renos up $200K 

Work to begin this summer in an effort to update hall, improve customer service

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Whistler's municipal hall needs a facelift: "I don't think this current configuration gives a sense of the success that we're achieving," said municipal CAO Mike Furey in a media briefing on the proposed renovations to the hall and the need to increase the budget by $200,000.

On Tuesday night council approved the increase The budget has risen from $275,000 to $475,000.

If Whistler has its eye on attracting and encouraging investment to its world class mountains, Furey believes it needs to look the part. He said he is looking to get the best bang for taxpayers' bucks.

The project, which will also improve customer service and accessibility, will be managed internally by project manager Andy Chalk and municipal staff will be utilized where possible. "(The project is), I think, a fiscally responsible and cost effective renovation," said Furey.

The work, which will bring the aging municipal hall into the 21st century, begins this summer with the major transformation spanning three to four months.

"We think the building is in dire need of an upgrade," said Furey.

The renovation will see the building services department moving downstairs to join infrastructure services and planning.

In its place will be a main entrance with one front counter, backed by the finance department. This will be located at the east side of the building. Other departments will be relocated throughout the main floor with a new configuration of the hallway that will provide more privacy for municipal workers.

"This is long overdue," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, adding that the building came to be the municipal hall for $1. It was the original The Keg restaurant from when it was located on the shores of Alta Lake. "It's time to reinvest in it."

In 2006 an $8.6 million renovation project went before council but it was defeated in a four-to-three vote.

GM resigns to become CAO in Tofino

Long-standing municipal general manager Bob MacPherson has taken a job as the Chief Administrative Officer of the District of Tofino.

He will begin on June 10.

Whistler's CAO Mike Furey spoke candidly of one of the key members of his staff at Tuesday's council meeting.

"(It's) going to be a big loss personally for me," he said, of seeing MacPherson go.

MacPherson has been a general manager at the hall for the past ten years, most recently as GM of corporate and community services.

Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden echoed Furey's praise.

"I've always enjoyed your dry sense of humour," she said. "Your insight has been particularly valuable and we are going to miss you."

After his last presentation to council, MacPherson asked he if could say a few words.

He said he has worked with three mayors, all who were very passionate about the community, and six councils. He has also worked with three CAO's.

"I've learned something from all of them," he said. "I guess we'll see in three weeks if I've learned enough!"

New industrial building on horizon for Function Junction

One of Function Junction's biggest developers, Millar Creek Developments, has another project in Whistler's industrial zone in the works.

On Tuesday council approved a development permit for a two-storey light industrial building on the west side of Function at 1220 Alpha Lake Road. The building will be 1,100 square metres (almost 12,000 square feet).

Another portion of the lot, under the BC Hydro right of way, will have a paved parking lot with 39 spaces. That's in addition to the 11 parking spaces beside the building.

"It's quite an unusually shaped property," said planner Melissa Laidlaw in her presentation to council.

She also noted that the municipal Advisory Design Panel felt that the project was a positive contribution to Function Junction.

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