Hotel renovations approved without adding more rooms 

There will be no additional gross floor area added to the Whistler Village Resort when the hotel embarks on its renovations of the South Tower next spring.

Council approved the hotel renovations at Monday’s meeting.

Their decision came on the heels of an Oct. 4 council resolution that vetoed an application from the developers of the Whistler Village Resort to add 39,000 square feet of additional space to the hotel with the renovations. Developers were hoping to add 10 townhouse units to the courtyard area of the hotel as well as an eight-storey addition for 19 more hotel rooms.

That application was sent back last month in a close vote at the council table, with Mayor Hugh O’Reilly casting the tie-breaking vote.

This month the hotel developers came back with an application to make modifications and upgrades to the hotel, which was the former Delta Whistler Resort. The renovations include new metal roofing and extended eaves, which will provide better weather protection. One of the two tennis courts will be removed from the courtyard and the landscaping will be upgraded.

Council approved the renovations with Councillor Marianne Wade expressing sadness that the municipality lost out on a chance for more affordable employee housing with the previous application.

Fire Service Increases

The Fire Rescue Service in Whistler has seen a 552 per cent increase in the number of calls they attended in the past six months.

In a presentation to council on Monday night, Fire Chief Bruce Hall explained that the increase is due to the change in the Fire Rescue Service’s emergency response from a limited response to a Tier 1 Level, which began in April. That change means the Fire Rescue Service now responds to the same emergency medical incidents that the British Columbia Ambulance Service responds to at an emergency level.

"The major goal in the change in response was to provide an increased level of emergency health care to the residents and guests of the Resort Municipality," wrote Hall in his report to council.

Response time has been better, said Hall, and the level of care has increased with the additional staff on scene.

Since the change, firefighters have responded to 171 incidents within the six-month period. During the same time period in the previous year, firefighters responded to 31 incidents.

Hall noted that motor vehicle accidents and "mountain" incidents were not included in those statistics.

Though there has been a marked increase in the number of incidents the firefighters are attending, Hall said the costs have been minimal.

"There has been no increase in staffing in order to meet these demands and in fact, these responses have increased the Service’s productivity in the area of emergency service delivery," said Hall.

Ihost volunteers back this winter

With a successful pilot project under its belt, the village ihost program will get bigger and better this winter season.

"We’ve barely reached the potential," said Maureen Douglas, director for community relations, Whistler, with the Vancouver Organizing Committee of the 2010 Olympic Games.

The ihost program kicked off in July with approximately 50 volunteers ready to take part as information hosts in the village. They worked in morning and afternoon shifts from Thursday to Monday, helping tourists find their way, answering questions and providing a sense of connection between Whistler’s guests and residents.

The program was a joint venture between VANOC and the municipality.

Douglas highlighted some of the challenges of the program, namely that the volunteers were sharing a base office with the 2010 Info Centre. At times this interrupted the flow of the 2010 office. She said the program also needs brighter uniforms and more logo enforcement throughout the village to let people know the volunteers are there to help.

"It just needs a little more time and a little more space to really shine," said Douglas.

Douglas said they would like to see more than 100 volunteers on shifts seven days a week. She said: "There’s no end to the possibilities."

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