Child care planning project to move ahead 

Council briefs: tickets for illegal nightly rentals on the rise; sewage main repair delay stinks, says Whistler Cay resident

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRADEN DUPUIS - PLANNING PROJECT Whistler's mayor and council watch a presentation at the June 25 council meeting.
  • Photo by Braden Dupuis
  • PLANNING PROJECT Whistler's mayor and council watch a presentation at the June 25 council meeting.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is moving ahead with a child care planning project thanks to a $24,840 grant from the Union of BC Municipalities.

At its June 25 meeting, council received a report on the project, which will be carried out by the Whistler Centre for Sustainability (WCS).

The project's goal will be to gather info on the child care needs of the community, create an inventory of existing child care space, identify "space creation targets" for the next 10 years, and identify actions that can be taken to meet those targets.

The information gathered will be shared with the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development for use in future provincial planning decisions.

The research will include a parent survey (likely in August and September), said Shannon Gordon, planning and engagement specialist with the WCS.

"What have they been looking to access; what have they been able to access?" she said in a presentation to council.

"Are they able to access the type of care they ideally want, and is it of the quality that they are hoping for? Or are they having to sort of go to plan B and C through the process?"

Once all the key information is gathered, workshops with key stakeholders—including daycares, after-school and preschool programs and summer camps—will take place in the fall.

It's great that the project will bring child care back to the forefront of the conversation and highlight the needs of the community, but it won't get to the root of the problem, said Kari Gaudet, executive director at the Whistler Children's Centre Society.

"It's all staffing. 100 per cent," she said, adding that she's currently operating with four or five fewer qualified staff than what she needs.

"And as a result of that we have staff that are working overtime to Band-Aid and meet the needs, and we've had to cap the enrolment on some of the days in some of our programs, because we do not have enough teaching staff," she said.

"So create as many spaces as you want, if you can't operate them because you don't have the qualified staff, then you're not getting any further ahead."

It's not an easy fix, Gaudet said—staffing is a problem for almost everyone in Whistler, largely due to the lack of housing.

"There's just as much need for early childhood educators down in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island, so they just slip into these positions," she said.

"No one's looking to come up here and try to battle with the housing and everything else that's associated with it."

The project must be completed by March 2020, though Gordon said she anticipates it will be done before that.

TICKETS FOR ILLEGAL NIGHTLY RENTALS ON THE RISE

A more proactive approach to illegal nightly rental enforcement is paying dividends for the RMOW.

The municipality has already issued 41 tickets ($500 each) so far this year, compared to 30 in total in 2018, and currently has 31 active investigations, said Lindsay DeBou, manager of protective services, in a presentation to council on June 25.

"We had two notices disputed in 2018, and both of those were upheld, and we've had nine disputed this year, eight were upheld," she said.

"Many owners have elected to comply upon receiving education without enforcement ... the challenge is that some owners are still continuing to list their nightly rentals even though we keep writing them tickets."

In those cases, the RMOW's next step is the injunction process, through which it can apply for a court order to force the homeowner to comply.

"It's a tool that we can use either if we've given tickets and the person hasn't complied, or if we feel that this person is in contravention of our bylaw," DeBou said.

"If they do not comply with that court order, the person may face jail time, or further fines, or both."

The municipality's proactive approach includes keeping an eye out for out-of-town plates during bylaw patrols and actively searching vacation rental sites, DeBou said.

"It's really important that not only staff are engaged on this topic, but the public is too," she said.

"So we do welcome information about suspected illegal short-term rentals from the residents, and we ask that if they are going to lodge a complaint to provide as much info as possible—the billing address, the unit number, listings—anything that they have to help us."

Residents can email bylawservices@whistler.ca.

Find more info at www.whistler.ca/touristaccomodation.

DELAYED REPAIR OF SEWAGE MAIN BREAK STINKS, SAYS RESIDENT

A sewage main break that occurred on Friday at Cedar Grove Lane and Crabapple Drive in Whistler Cay couldn't be repaired until Monday due to a timing issue, leaving nearby homeowners holding their noses.

The contractors needed for the repair weren't available over the weekend, said chief administrative officer Mike Furey.

"By the time they got in touch with the people in Vancouver on late Friday evening, they weren't available until Monday, so we just had to wait for them," he said.

Cheryl Parker, a resident in the area, was disgusted that the break wasn't addressed sooner.

"I definitely wouldn't be calling it grey water. It's a lot browner than that. And I'm pretty sure if it was next to the mayor's house it would have been fixed on Friday night," she said.

"When it smells like shit, and it looks like shit, and it's running down the ditch—yeah, that's disgusting.

"Eventually all that water runs into the creek. It all runs into the River of Golden Dreams."

Furey couldn't say how much sewage leaked, or where it ended up.

"I haven't had a report back from staff yet on that, but staff were on it within 15 minutes and doing everything within their power to sort of limit the exposure that came from it," he said.

"So it's just one of those things that we couldn't get the equipment together we needed right away."

In a follow-up email, a municipal spokesperson said barricades were put into place and flow was diverted into the ditch.

"Contaminated soils have been removed and garden lime will be applied sparsely to act as a disinfectant," the spokesperson said.

"More information about the cause and other details of the incident will be available at a later date once a full review of the incident has been completed."

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