Millennium Place’s future in jeopardy 

Whistler Interfaith Society not happy with proposed lease; decision must be made by Sept. 22

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Melamed added that council thought enough time has been given to the WIS to strike a mutually acceptable agreement. The ownership transfer has been in discussions since 2007.

Councillor Tim Wake, who sits on the Millennium Place board of directors, said the municipality has made every effort to act in good faith of the interfaith society.

“I take exception to Mr. Shrimpton’s comments that the lease is dramatically altered. The spirit of it is the same,” said Wake.

“The municipality and our staff have gone the extra mile to put this thing together and still have this building as a community benefit and as a place of worship for the community. I hope the WIS can come to terms that these changes are not material to them, and the dire consequences we are going to face. The WIS will be losers if we do not complete this deal, but the whole community will also be losers.”

Bob Lorriman added: “At this time, it is in the control of members of the community, and I hope they can see their way clear to make this happen.

“This is just taking way too long.”

Councillor Ralph Forsyth, who voted against the endorsement, said he did so because of a provision in the new lease that allows Millennium Place to ask the WIS to worship at a school if there is a performance scheduled at the facility during times of worship.

“I do have a high degree of discomfort when people of faith, who got the ball rolling but could not pay the bills, are told they cannot worship at their place of worship,” said Forsyth.

Both Wake and Melamed said WIS’s use of the building can be worked out later, but someone needs to pay off the building’s debt soon.

“We are at a point where there is a choice between foreclosure and protecting a community asset,” said Melamed.

Shrimpton said he is concerned about the councillors’ characterizations of the interfaith society as being slow and uncooperative.

He added, though, that he is encouraged that council directed staff to meet with the interfaith society to discuss their concerns.

“In response to the threat of foreclosure, of course that is always a possibility, but with proper, respectful negotiations, it can easily be avoided and a solution found for all concerned parties,” said Shrimpton.

It is not clear what the credit union would do if an agreement is not reached by Sept. 22. While foreclosure is an option, legislation attached to the land says that a commercial group cannot buy the property, which was assessed at $10 million in 2007.

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