Council Briefs: Westin saga nearing end 

The municipality hopes to tie up another loose end in the messy Westin Hotel and Spa development soon.

At least 552 square metres of space within the hotel is non-conforming. On Tuesday council directed municipal staff to draft a rezoning application that would bring some of this office and storage space into compliance.

Council is also requesting that the Westin owners submit a letter of credit worth $140,000 in lieu of seven required parking stalls it did not build.

And they are asking the owners to pay all their outstanding application processing fees.

The municipality's problems with the Westin date back almost 10 years, to when Cressey Developments was building the hotel in 2000.

Beyond the extra gross floor space, the hotel also did not build enough employee housing on-site. That issue, though, will be rectified through Cressey's Fitzsimmons Walk development.

On Tuesday, councillors asked if there is any way the municipality can recoup the huge costs in staff time that have developed over the past decade as they deal with this development.

Joe Mooney from the municipality replied: "There are very few ways to recoup money.

"That is one of the costs of doing business as a municipality."

Film fest boosted occupancy 11 per cent

"Bigger and better than ever. On the verge of becoming important."

That was the way the Vancouver Sun described December's Whistler Film Festival. And on Tuesday night, the festival's organizer came armed with statistics to further show council how her program got bigger and better this year.

"Resort occupancy during the festival period increased 11 per cent," said Shauna Hardy Mishaw, executive director of the Whistler Film Festival Society.

"We had a 7 per cent increase in attendance with a total of 7,596 people attending."

Hardy Mishaw said room nights booked increased by 28 per cent over the festival period, with more than half of the attendees coming from outside the Whistler area.

The festival also generated a 3 per cent increase in media impressions, valued at $750,000, including coverage from major international press like Variety , The Hollywood Reporter, Entertainment Tonight and Etalk .

"You are helping to provide some of the opportunities and some of the economic drivers to carry us forward into the future. I think this is tremendous," said Mayor Ken Melamed after hearing Hardy Mishaw's presentation.

Added Councillor Chris Quinlan: "As one of the businesses that was really affected by the festival, it doesn't only kick start the ski season, it really kicks ass."

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