Council Briefs 

Arts council included in library/museum building, budget climbs

The budget for the future library/museum building has increased by $157,000 even before construction has started.

Council approved the increase Tuesday to accommodate another 600 square feet inside the building for the Whistler Community Arts Council. Two-hundred square feet will be for the executive director’s office and 400 square feet will be used for reception and administration purposes.

The arts council, which is provided with $90,000 in funding by the municipality, currently has an office in Millennium Place but has outgrown the space.

Funding the arts council is consistent with one of the Whistler 2002 vision document’s goals of promoting and expanding the arts in Whistler.

The $157,000 will be split 50:50 between the municipality and the arts council, which will strike its own fundraising committee, to work with the library/museum Capital Campaign Steering Committee.

The total budget for the library/museum project is now $9,725,865. The municipality had committed more than $5 million toward the project prior to Tuesday’s meeting. The Whistler-Blackcomb Foundation has also committed $400,000 to the building. A capital campaign was launched in March to raise the remaining funds. The campaign currently sits at approximately $5.6 million.

Building construction is tentatively scheduled to start next summer but the Capital Campaign Steering Committee has agreed to have 80 per cent of the funds pledged prior to starting construction.

A 27,000 square foot building is planned for the site next to Main Street, where the library and museum are currently housed in portable units.

A one-storey, L-shaped building is planned. Initial designs for the building should be available in the fall.

Spring Creek fire hall costs up 10 per cent

The Spring Creek fire hall, which will be a "green" building with a sod roof and will meet LEAD standards for environmental design, is going to be a little more expensive than planned.

Council Tuesday approved a $157,000 (10 per cent) increase in the budget for the hall. The 6,700 square foot building is now expected to cost $1.556 million.

Fire Chief Bruce Hall told council the increase in the budget is due to higher than anticipated site servicing, including blasting, and that all bids from general contractors were higher than expected.

The four bidders were asked to re-submit information on costing and some portions of the project were revised to reduce costs. Although the low bid on the second submission was still over the anticipated budget, costs were reduced by incorporating recycled fixtures and recycled timbers into the building. The recycled materials are available to the contractor from a tear-down project he is completing.

Construction costs will work out to $217 per square foot, which Hall said in his report is consistent with current fire hall budgeting practices in other jurisdictions.

$150 fine for false alarms

Responding to false fire alarms is costing the municipality money, so those costs will be transferred to repeat offenders.

A bylaw introduced Tuesday authorizes a $150 fine for the owner or occupant of a property after three false alarms at the property in one year.

As an example of the problem the bylaw is supposed to address Fire Chief Bruce Hall told council that in 2001 six properties had 179 false alarms.

"Although all these incidents would not be covered by the bylaw, there would be an incentive to identify a concern and deal with the matter in an expeditious manner," Hall wrote in his report to council.

Responding to false alarms costs taxpayers money but also takes emergency crews away from the fire hall and inhibits their ability to respond to actual emergencies.

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