In defense of Rainbow 

As first phase sells well, a councillor and a project partner stand up for the neighbourhood

Good news from the Rainbow Development: All of the single-family units in the first phase of the Rainbow development have been sold, along with eight of the 24 duplexes.

“The surprising thing is that the more expensive homes have been the most popular,” said Rod Nadeau, a partner in the Rainbow Joint Venture.

“Actually the one we did as a price point house with no garage, no one wanted it… People coming to buy them are picking the nicer ones, which has been a very pleasant surprise.”

This latest update comes one week after Councillor Gord McKeever defended the Rainbow project in a prepared speech last week right before council adopted the Rainbow housing agreement with a 5-2 vote.

In his talk, McKeever pointed out that if you compare the “true” cost of delivering a home at the Cheakamus Crossing development to the Rainbow development, the Rainbow units are reasonably priced given the current market conditions.

Specifically, if Cheakamus Crossing did not have the benefit of having a not-for-profit-model, free land, and significant cash subsidies, explained McKeever, a 2,000 square foot town house would have come in at closer to $700,000.

“In a way, it was defending the Rainbow project, because I have seen obviously a lot of disappointment expressed in the cost, and we share that disappointment,” explained McKeever after the meeting.

“But the cost, as I tried to point out, was about 20 per cent higher than we expected it to be three years ago, which is at least what the cost of construction escalation has been in that time. The escalation, while it is really stretching the definition of affordable by a long way, is actually reflective of the current conditions of the construction market.”

McKeever said his talk was spurred, in large part, because of the criticism the project has received from both the public and the media.

Many stakeholders in the project have pointed to similar criticism since the initial price estimates were announced on June 10 this summer. In fact, Ann Chiasson, another partner in the Rainbow Joint Venture, declined to comment this week on the latest status of the Rainbow project because of alleged negative spin.

Added Nadeau: “I wish more people could focus on making it (the Rainbow development) a success rather than micro-manage or nit pick the details that, at the end of the day, are not important.

“If people actually took a step back and took a look at the neighbourhood, you would find that it will probably be the nicest neighbourhood in Whistler in two or three years…. Everyone seems to lose sight of the fact that we are building a great neighbourhood and gets bogged down in the micro-managing, minute details.”

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