Firefighters volunteer to upgrade fire hall 

Whistler's firefighters are volunteering to upgrade Whistler Village's fire hall in their free time.

Fire Chief Rob Whitton explained this week that the Whistler Fire Rescue Service's two new trucks fit on the left hand side of the village fire hall, but they are too long to fit in the centre bay.

Originally, the fire department was planning to spend $10,000 on a minor renovation project to widen the doors on the left hand side of the hall for the trucks. But Whitton said the trucks are often kept in the centre bay.

But the fire fighters' union has now come up with a creative solution to solve the problem.

"The union stated they were well aware of the budget allotment and they had a lot of qualified members that would like to donate their time and take the project on," Whitton told council on Tuesday.

Whitton said of Whistler's 21 career firefighters, four are ticketed electricians, about six are certified in framing and carpentry, and several others are general handymen.

He said all construction work is totally voluntary, and wherever required, other qualified trades people will do necessary work. The department will get all the necessary permits from the municipality.

Whitton added the voluntary project has not created a division among the firefighters. He said, however, "some people are opposed to it and think someone else should do it."

Acting mayor Chris Quinlan congratulated the fire chief on the volunteer project.

"Congratulations to the members who have come forward and volunteered their time for us," said Quinlan. "I know our staff has checked to make sure we are covered liability wise."

The Spring Creek Fire Hall doesn't need to be upgraded for the new trucks, which together cost $1.5 million, since the southern hall was built to more modern standards.

RMOW addresses HST concerns

Will the harmonized sales tax impact the municipality's income?

That question took a front seat at Tuesday night's council meeting, with general manager of economic viability Lisa Landry speaking point-blank about the controversial issue.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler currently receives six per cent of the province's 10 per cent tax on hotel rooms, explained Landry, which amounts to about $11 million a year in revenue.

But, once the harmonized sales tax (HST) kicks in next summer, the total hotel tax the province collects in Whistler will drop from 10 per cent to seven per cent.

Landry said at this point the provincial government has told her that the change to HST will not negatively impact Whistler's hotel tax, although a new formula to divide up the money hasn't been calculated yet.

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