Council champions GranFondo and Half Marathon 

This week, council was heavy on praise for two massive sporting events coming to Whistler over the next year: the RBC GranFondo Whistler on Sept. 11 and the Whistler Half Marathon next June.

"This is the future of building business for Whistler," said Chris Quinlan on Tuesday night after a presentation by GranFondo organizer Neil MacKinnon. "Thanks for the foresight and for stepping up and planning this. I am pretty sure you will see as much support as you need from this council."

The GranFondo will see 4,000 cyclists make their way from West Georgia Street in Vancouver to Lot 4 in Whistler on Sept. 11.

Already, has attributed 1,200 room nights to the event, which is 44 per cent higher than the same weekend last year. The GranFondo weekend is also outpacing Labour Day Weekend.

"This really puts Whistler on the map for a different type of sporting event," said MacKinnon.

He added that organizers plan to grow the event to 10,000 participants within two years.

Meanwhile, the founders of Whistler Friends announced this week that they are going to bring a half-marathon run to the resort municipality next June 4.

"We are hoping to produce an event that will be on the must-do list for all runners throughout the Pacific North West," said MacKinnon during his presentation to council on Tuesday night.

He said the official 21.1 kilometre course will be announced in late December and registration will begin in January. The planned entrance fee is $65.

"I think this is just a fantastic idea," said Councillor Ralph Forsyth. "Any support council can provide, let us know. At least from my perspective, we are really pleased that you're taking this initiative, and I think it will be a big success for you and the town."


Wanted: $50,000 for village animation

The Business Enhancement Committee wants council to shell out $50,000 over the next year to bolster animation in the village during holiday weekends.

On Tuesday night, municipal staff presented a proposal to recreate the Canada Day 2010 Olympic Celebration over the next half year on dates like Labour Day, Canadian and US Thanksgiving, Christmas, RBC GranFondo Whistler, Turkey Sale, Cornucopia, Whistler Film Festival and the Whistler Holiday Experience.

Money to fund the outdoor celebrations could come from the 2 per cent hotel tax, suggested municipal manager of village animation Bob Andrea.

Council, however, is not convinced $50,000 should be pumped into enlivening the village this year.

"We are just going to throw $50,000 at this because the committee says so?" asked councillor Ralph Forsyth after receiving the report. "Show me a budget."

Mayor Ken Melamed, echoed his sentiments, saying the proposal feels "ad hoc."

Councillor Chris Quinlan, however, spoke in favour of funds, and he convinced the other council members to ask municipal staff to draft an outline of how the money will be spent.

"This is an opportunity to capitalize on creating more animation within the village when we do have these events," said Quinlan. "I think it is a worthwhile expenditure."


Council breathes new life into Infill Housing

After almost being scrapped from the workbooks last month, infill housing is now back in Whistler.

On Tuesday night, council gave third reading to the pilot project that will allow some homeowners to put extra suites on large lots in Alpine South.

Mayor Ken Melamed brought the initiative back because one of the councillors was absent from the meeting in August. At that time, council put the brakes on the plan in a tight 3-3 vote.

However, not all councillors are supportive of the proposal.

Councillor Tom Thomson thought infill housing was a great concept seven years ago, but today many of Whistler's housing needs have been met with the new Rainbow, Fitzsimmons Walk and Cheakamus Crossing developments.

Added Councillor Eckhard Zeidler: "There is a time for this. That time has come and gone."

And Councillor Ted Milner said tying resale values of the subdivided lots to the Whistler Housing Authority makes no sense.

Meanwhile, Councillor Ralph Forsyth changed his position and voted for the motion because he went through his old campaign literature and saw that he ran on the promise of infill housing.

"I don't know how successful it will be," said Forsyth. "I am worried no one will do it. I don't think it will work without the market component. I don't know why the WHA doesn't see it. But I'll support it. Let's see what happens."

The infill housing concept is seven years in the making and involved multiple open houses and community meetings. The intent is to increase the number of affordable units available.



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