Pique N Your Interest 

Two cents and change

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Issues are piling up in the floor like so much sweaty snowboard gear in the rush of winter, and you can only hold your nose for so long before taking them out for an airing.

Instead of focusing on just one topic this week, I thought I would use this opportunity to air my views on three topics that have been on my mind a lot lately.

Rainbow vs. Athletes Village

At the risk of finding burning bags of feces on my front porch, I think it’s time to permanently deep six the whole Rainbow subdivision idea. It’s too expensive to be effective as staff housing, which means we’ll probably end up building more market housing to subsidize the costs.

I know we need those bed units (I’m on the Whistler Housing Authority waitlist myself) but realistically we can probably expect to see about 100 new units on the market in the next few years with Nita Lake, Function Junction, and The Boot property coming online. We also are still resolving the whole Holborn-legacy issue, and that could add a few more beds to the mix right next to the village.

But the main reason for ix-naying Rainbow is the fact we’re also planning an athletes village. While also ludicrously expensive per square foot, we’re already committed to housing 2,800 athletes and coaches for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. With a significant boost in funding, we could turn most of those bed units into subsidized staff housing. We could even get WHA wait-listers to purchase the units in advance, making up for some of the shortfall, and find a private partner to build a dorm/hostel that they would take over after the Games.

Unlike Rainbow, the athletes village will have a park, a sports centre, and nearby services – Franz’s Trail in Creekside is still under-utilized. Who knows, one day the new neighbourhood might even have its own chairlift up the west side of Whistler Mountain.

All I’m saying is that there’s no need to build two villages when one is all we need.

Get moving on Lot 1/Lot 9

While I applaud the RMOW’s decision to solicit ideas from the public at a meeting last week (several years too late), Whistler is at a juncture where we need bold leadership and not more decisions by committee. We’re committed to building a Paralympic arena, so let’s build it – the longer we wait the more it’s going to cost. Maybe we can also relax our environmental and aesthetic requirements slightly in favour of a more practical design, and get it built for a little more than the $20 million provided.

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