Council Briefs 

Rainbow on the way

Though it may appear to have fallen by the wayside, the Rainbow employee housing project is still very much alive.

Mayor Ken Melamed assured residents at Monday’s council meeting that the project, which will deliver hundreds of new units to residents at a fixed price, is proceeding at pace and working its way through municipal hall.

Municipal staff is meeting with the proponents this week said the mayor and there will be an update at the next council meeting on Tuesday, March 21.

He explained that council could not approve the earlier plan, which was submitted by the developers, because it did not accurately reflect the realities of the site, located just north of Alpine Meadows.

"We couldn’t approve a plan that didn’t actually play out on the ground," said the mayor.

Councillor Eckhard Zeidler also explained that the community had come to expect the project would be approved almost as soon as the new council took office at the end of November. Those expectations were set up from the election candidates, Rainbow’s proponents, and the newspaper editorials calling for more employee housing.

But in fact, he said, those expectations did not meet the reality on the ground.

There were still a number of outstanding issues to be resolved between the municipality and the developers.

Councillor Ralph Forsyth reiterated council’s commitment to the project.

"Rainbow continues to be a priority for this council," he said.

"… We share the community’s sense of urgency to get the project done."

The Whistler Housing Authority’s waitlist for employee housing is higher than it has ever been, with 570 individuals, couples or families now waiting for a chance to buy in Whistler at a fixed price. Rainbow is to deliver more than 300 units of employee housing in a range of sizes and styles.

Boot’s Beer and Wine store moves to Nesters

There was little debate Monday night as council voted unanimously to move the Boot’s Cold Beer and Wine store across Highway 99 to Nesters.

The rezoning approval came shortly after the public hearing for the proposal. Not one person spoke out in support for the move or in opposition to it.

Council does not consider rezoning applications on the night of the public hearing if there is any opposition.

Councillor Ralph Forsyth urged council to consider the move because they have a lot on their plates already.

And so, without much ado, council voted to move the cold beer and wine store to the backside of Nesters. The vote was unanimous, with Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden excusing herself due to a conflict of interest.

The owners of the store were forced to find another location last year as the six-acre Boot Pub site in White Gold makes way for a townhouse development. Originally there was to be a small commercial component in that neighbourhood but it was taken out of the plans in favour of more residential development.

Non-profits appeal to council

Thirty-one non-profit organizations have asked council for almost $420,000 in grants this year.

Their requests came as part of Whistler’s annual Community Enrichment Program. On Monday the groups made five-minute presentations to council on why they needed the grant money.

Council now has to make some tough decisions, as there is only $259,000 to divvy out among the non-profits. That number is one per cent of the total municipal budget.

"It’s great for us to sit there and listen to how much is going on in the community," said Mayor Ken Melamed. "We do have a lot of volunteer organizations that operate with very little assistance from the municipality and they leverage that money to incredible advantage."

The total amount requested from environmental groups was almost $30,000. Social services organizations asked for more than $85,000 while community services organizations requested almost $42,000. The biggest request came from recreation and sports non-profits who asked for a combined total of almost $160,000. Arts and culture groups together asked for $100,000.

Among the groups who applied for funding were AWARE, the Mature Action Committee, the Whistler Forum for Dialogue and the Whistler Gymnastics Club.

Some of the groups may be able to apply for money through the Community Foundation of Whistler if they are unable to get funding through the municipality, or in addition to the CEP funding.

Together WAG, the Whistler Arts Council, MY Millennium Place and the Whistler Museum and Archives asked for $823,000. Council has $650,000 to give out among them.

Melamed said it is common for there to be more grant applications than money available.

Council is expected to make its decisions about the grants at the first meeting in April.

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