Council briefs 

Group looks for waste station options outside Callaghan

The municipality has applied to the province to build a waste transfer station at the entrance to the Callaghan Valley even as work continues to find another site in Whistler.

Councillor Eckhard Zeidler said this week a small group of stakeholders is quickly gathering information on another option near Function Junction.

"We’re exploring the option," he said. "I’m not advocating for it because I simply don’t know yet whether it’s feasible."

Last month the Forest and Wildland Advisory Committee asked council to reject’s staff’s proposal to put the waste transfer station in the Callaghan. They are concerned there is no master plan for the valley.

At the same time, Zeidler, who is council’s representative on FWAC, recognizes time is quickly running out – Whistler needs to start building a transfer station this year. That’s why he agreed to support the application to the Crown for the Callaghan site.

That decision was made with little debate at the council table Monday night after staff engineer James Hallisey walked council through the decision making process for the site.

"It’s quite a challenge to find a site that meets all of (the) criteria," he said.

Whistler is looking for a new spot to store its garbage before it is trucked to Vancouver and then transferred to rail cars to be taken to the Rabanco landfill in Washington state. Whistler closed its landfill in November to make way for the Olympic athletes village.

Ten potential transfer station sites were ultimately narrowed down to two. The Callaghan was chosen over the Lower Cheakamus because there is more room to expand and there are no immediate neighbours. The Lower Cheakamus site, on the other hand, is just half a kilometre away from the future athletes village/residential neighbourhood.

A number of stakeholders were consulted throughout the process.

Hallisey said the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic Games has expressed some concern about the visual impact at the Callaghan. The tops of the buildings may be visible from the Whistler Nordic’s Centre’s access road.

The transfer station will cost $2.6 million.

FJ employee housing on track

Function Junction’s employee housing project is back on track.

Council agreed to increase the maximum sale price of 30 proposed employee housing apartment units from $175 to $190 per square foot. That will help developer Don Wensley cover the costs to build.

Construction costs have been escalating ever since bylaws establishing a maximum price were approved in the summer of 2005.

Councillor Ralph Forsyth asked if there is still uptake from Whistler Housing Authority’s waitlist for the more expensive units.

Staff assured that there was interest. They also assured council the developer is ready to start building the project at the north end of Function Junction.

Wensley said this week he is hoping to start construction no later than July 1, pending the approval of the subdivision plan for the site as well as getting the building permit.

They will be working as quickly as possible to get the building complete, he said.

Second thoughts on WHA blanket appreciation formula

Councillor Ralph Forsyth is having second thoughts about his decision to support a recommendation that would tie all employee housing projects to the same modest appreciation formula.

Forsyth said he felt council’s May 1 decision to tie every unit to the Consumer Price Index after the next sale was made in haste and without proper debate.

"I should have spoken up earlier," he admitted.

He asked council if they would support a poll of the waitlist as well as a report on different scenarios that looks at options to the CPI.

The rationale for the change to one blanket appreciation formula was outlined in a report to council from WHA General Manager Marla Zucht on May 1.

Among other reasons, Zucht said there are units in the inventory that have seen sizable increases because they are tied to the Vancouver market, which has been hot in recent years.

Council on the whole agreed to Forsyth’s request, in part because the WHA is already doing a poll.

Councillor Bob Lorriman opposed revisiting the issue.

"I’m comfortable with the CPI," he said.

Forsyth’s motion doesn’t change council’s earlier decision to tie the whole inventory to one formula but it will shed some more light on the impact of their decision with feedback from people on the waitlist.

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