Among the multitude of issues the next Whistler council will have to deal with is one currently being foisted on all municipal councils, provincial cost sharing, or lack there of. The province has already chipped in for the current expansion of the sewage treatment plant and the extension of the sewage line to Emerald Estates. These type of infrastructure projects have traditionally been funded on a 50:50 basis by the province and the affected municipality, but that type of provincial contribution is unlikely in the future, given Victoria’s present fiscal problems. By most accounts Whistler is in fairly good shape financially. The development cost charges levied by the municipality have made Whistler richer than most towns of 7,000, but then the municipality is providing services for 35,000-50,000. Still, the capital review to buildout has set some money aside for a cultural centre/library/theatre, there are funds earmarked for future transportation systems, an upgrading of the municipal waterworks system has been considered and funding for the local detachment of the RCMP (or our own police force) is under active discussion. There may not be enough money to do all the things everyone wants to do right away, but Whistler is financially healthy enough to have options on most of these issues. Where the financing gets tricky is when it comes to matters involving the province. A future upgrade of the sewage treatment plant, for example. Will there be any cost sharing two or three years down the road? The proposed highway bypass; is that a provincial highway or a Whistler road? Can the ministry of education keep up with the demand for schools? And then there is the provincially-mandated solid waste reduction program. The province says the amount of waste has to be cut in half by the turn of the century or it will levy fines. But will the province participate in costly programs such as composting and closing landfills to help reach those goals? Don’t bet on it. Municipalities could face costs associated with other provincial initiatives as well, such as casinos and native land claims. These pressures, as well as the pressure from developers willing to build Whistler a theatre, for example, in exchange for a few more development rights, are what face the next council. Creative financial management may be just as important as affordable housing and dealing with the ceiling on development.

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