Lift station, paving contracts awarded 

Council briefs: Third reading for public washrooms; Lil'wat housing agreement bylaw

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRADEN DUPUIS - council contracts Mayor Jack Crompton, right, and Councillor Ralphy Forsyth watch a presentation in the midst of a packed agenda at the April 16 council meeting.
  • photo by braden dupuis
  • council contracts Mayor Jack Crompton, right, and Councillor Ralphy Forsyth watch a presentation in the midst of a packed agenda at the April 16 council meeting.

two more infrastructure projects are set to get underway with the awarding of two contracts at council's April 16 meeting.

The Spruce Grove Sewer Lift Station Project ($1.1-million contract awarded to Merletti Construction) will see Whistler's largest lift station get a long-awaited upgrade.

The project aims to extend the lifespan of the station—which handles about one third of the total sewer flows in Whistler—by installing a hydrogen sulfide resistant liner in the station's wet well.

Though Merletti's bid was the lowest of two, it was still above the $800,000 the RMOW had originally earmarked for the project, meaning $450,000 must be reallocated from the Sewer Main Upgrade Project budget to the Sewer Lift Station Upgrade project.

The lower estimate comes from a previous tender process for the project in which a proponent underbid for the work, said capital projects manager Tammy Shore.

"So we did base our budget kind of around his estimate, but I'm confident that the work is fair market value. I think that was just underestimated," Shore said.

The contract for Whistler's 2019 paving work, meanwhile, was once again awarded to Alpine Paving Ltd.

As in previous years, Alpine Paving submitted two bids for the work: one for $1,124,842 (if the asphalt for the project can be sourced from the Whistler asphalt plant in Cheakamus Crossing) and another for $1,185,015.50 (if the asphalt is sourced from Squamish, as it has been since council made it a requirement in 2011).

The RMOW has long been publicly opposed to the plant, which nevertheless received a 10-year lease renewal from the provincial government in September 2017.

Though RMOW staff recommended the lower bid, which represents about $59,000 in savings in 2019, council opted to go with the higher option.

"I know it's complex, but certainly I find it paining from a climate-responsibility perspective to be trucking asphalt from Squamish," said Councillor Arthur De Jong.

"So hopefully that changes soon."

The RMOW installed an air-quality monitoring station in Cheakamus in 2010, and operates it at an annual cost of about $25,000 a year. In 2014, a consultant's analysis of four years of data found no correlation between the airborne particulate matter measured and the days the asphalt plant was operating.

The 2018 air-quality report is expected shortly, said general manager of infrastructure James Hallisey.

With two other air-quality monitoring stations in Whistler (at Meadow Park Sports Centre and Nesters, run by the provincial and federal governments, respectively), Coun. John Grills suggested the additional trucking costs could be offset somewhat by shutting down the Cheakamus station.

"I think once we have the 2018 report in, if we're not seeing any changes over the years, if the air is good, then I would suggest ... that we look at shutting down that monitoring station and save the $25,000."

The 2019 paving work involves 22 different areas: six road segments, 10 trail segments, one tennis court, one basketball court, two Bayly Park locations and two parking lots.

Some of the road segments were affected by a FortisBC as installation in late 2018, for which the energy company will pay the RMOW $264,000.

REZONING FOR BATHROOM PAVILION GETS THIRD READING

A rezoning for a public washroom pavilion at the Gateway Loop is headed for adoption after receiving third reading at the April 16 council meeting.

Though the project received six opposition comments during the public hearing process—mostly centred around the location, environmental impact and cost of the project—RMOW staff found that none of them required revision to the bylaw as proposed.

Coun. Jen Ford noted there is "a lot of angst in the community" about the cost of the project ($3 million for three public washroom facilities in high-traffic areas in the village, to be paid for with provincial Resort Municipality Initiative funds).

Even though the project is to be paid for with provincial funds, "It's still money, and it's still community money that can't be spent on other things," Ford said, adding that she'd rather see the Welcome Centre's washrooms be better utilized.

"It's a resort municipality asset, that we do spend money on, and we as a community want the best experience for our guests as they arrive to the village—adding another building on green space where there is very little green space left, it's just not hitting the mark for me."

The proposed design calls for the removal of five trees, while preserving eight mature trees closest to Village Gate Boulevard, and the proposed landscape plan is subject to development permit approval.

Designs for all three washrooms were reviewed and approved by the Advisory Design Panel, noted Coun. Duane Jackson.

"I think, generally, it was well supported and the need is well recognized," Jackson said.

HOUSING AGREEMENT BYLAW WITH LIL'WAT NATION GETS FIRST READINGS

A Lil'wat Nation development in Function Junction is one step closer to fruition after council gave first three readings to a related housing agreement bylaw on April 16.

The agreement will ensure that the development's planned 48 housing units (which translate into about 184 beds) will be for Whistler employees only.

The units will be 100-per-cent rental and managed by a third-party property management company, according to the Lil'wat Nation (the Whistler Housing Authority won't be involved).

The lands are owned by the Lil'wat Nation through the Legacy Land Agreement of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Plans for the 2.15-hectare site include a gas station and three mixed-use buildings containing office, commercial and residential space, (which has been increased from 18 to 48 units since the project received conditional approval in 2017).

Under the RMOW's Housing Charge Bylaw (which requires developers to either build housing for employees generated by their projects, or pay fees in lieu of providing said housing), the commercial/residential development was expected to create 58 employees, requiring 58 beds—meaning the proposed 184 beds go above and beyond the requirement.

"The owner will include a clause in the tenancy agreement, so people are aware when they're signing ... that they need to comply with the restrictions of the housing agreement," said planner Robert Brennan in a presentation to council.

"And then the owners will monitor that their tenants are following that, otherwise their tenancy will be terminated."

The agreement is a "good news story," said Councillor John Grills.

"It's three times (what) they were required to build under their project ... There's an additional 126 beds, and there's obviously a strong demand for it," he said.

"So I think it's a good news story, and badly needed beds."

The project is also a success story as far as mixed-use developments go, said Coun. Jen Ford.

"It's close to an existing neighbourhood, it's close to transit, this is a hugely successful proposal so I'm very excited to see this one happen," she said.

Along with the housing agreement, the conditions required for approval include planning for localized improvements along the frontage of Alpha Lake Road and consideration for intersection improvements at Highway 99.

A long-awaited traffic impact study has yet to be made public (see Pique, April 3).

TAX BYLAWS GET FIRST THREE READINGS

Also at the April 16 meeting, council gave first three readings to its 2019 property tax and utility rate bylaws.

As revealed at the budget open house in February, the bylaws include a 2.9-per-cent property tax increase, two-per-cent increases to sewer parcel and water fees, and a 3.6-per-cent increase to solid waste user fees.

"What does that mean for individual taxpayers? This year and every year, the relative change of the value of your property will determine the direction of your tax bill," said director of finance Carlee Price at the open house on Feb. 4.

"So for 2019, the average residential assessment in Whistler is up 16.3 per cent. What that means is if your property appreciated by less ... your tax bill may actually fall. If your property is up by a greater amount, your tax bill may actually rise."

The 2019-2023 proposed projects list includes 176 projects worth $42.6 million (including $5.3 million carried over from 2018).

The total municipal budget is worth $87 million this year, up from $85 million in 2018.

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