Rainbow Park gets bigger with land deal 

Waterfront land to remain parkland

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MIKE CRANE / TOURISM WHISTLER - OVER THE RAINBOW At a cost of $756,000, Whistler's council has approved a deal to buy a roughly 3,658-square-metre parcel of land next to Rainbow Park, pictured.
  • Photo by Mike Crane / Tourism Whistler
  • OVER THE RAINBOW At a cost of $756,000, Whistler's council has approved a deal to buy a roughly 3,658-square-metre parcel of land next to Rainbow Park, pictured.

One of Whistler's favourite parks is now a little bigger.

At a cost of $756,000, council has approved a deal to buy a roughly 3,658-square-metre parcel of land next to Rainbow Park.

The waterfront parcel is directly south of the special events area, close to the dog beach.

"This is part and parcel of keeping our eyes open for any kind of waterfront land that may come available," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden on June 20 of the 2016 deal. "This piece was really a no-brainer because it's already beside an existing, and heavily-used, park."

A private landowner approached the municipality and, after nine months of negotiations, council sealed the deal in May 2016, bringing forward an amendment to the Five-Year Financial Plan at a council meeting. The money was then held in trust by municipal lawyers Young Anderson, outlined in the recently released SOFI report.

To pay for the land, the municipality drained the Parkland Reserve to zero, using the $550,000 in that reserve towards the purchase. The remaining $200,000 came from the General Capital reserve.

The land will be used for park purposes.

The deal was struck about one year before the recent Parkhurst deal, which saw the resort pay $6.5 million for 81 hectares of waterfront on the north side of Green Lake.

The money to pay for that also came from reserves.

Like Parkhurst, there are no specific plans as yet for the new Rainbow parcel.

According to the communications department: "Specific plans have yet to be developed and the property will be included in Rainbow Park rejuvenation plans at a later date."

Rainbow Park, described by the mayor in the past as "one of the jewels in our crown as far as parks are concerned," is two hectares of prime land on Alta Lake Road.

Thirty years ago council of the day expropriated the 44 hectares of land for $367,000 in order to create the park.

A 25-year legal battle then ensued between the municipality and the previous landowners, culminating in a Supreme Court judgment in 2012 awarding the family $1.5 million in unpaid interest.

Rainbow Park cost Whistler $2.4 million, not including the recent $750,000 purchase.

The addition is just a fraction of the size of the park — about five per cent.

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