taluswood 

Intrawest and Whistler Mountain Ski Corp. may have come to an agreement to get the troubled Taluswood development going again, but more than 70 local contractors owed approximately $4 million are still waiting for an offer from either company. "The best offer we’ve had is ‘we’ll let you know when we can make you an offer’," said Nigel Woods, one of the contractors owed money. "It appears to us the high ground is not being taken." Woods and Jim Charters, a carpenter and spokesman for the local contractors, understand neither Whistler Mountain or Intrawest have any legal obligation to pay the contractors, but they say there were indications from both companies they would find a workable solution with the contractors. "The moral issue is greater than the legal issue," Woods said. Woods and Charters made their statements Tuesday afternoon, a day after a meeting with the other contractors. No representative from Intrawest was available for comment Wednesday, but in a press release last week Gary Raymond, president of Intrawest’s Resort Development Group, said: "This is a very important project for not only Whistler Mountain and Intrawest, but for the community as a whole, given its unfortunate history. Wherever possible, we look forward to working with the local trades who have previously committed their resources to Taluswood." Intrawest announced last week it had reached a joint venture agreement with Whistler Mountain Ski Corp. to finish the upscale townhouse development on Whistler Mountain. Whistler Mountain Ski Corp. took possession of Taluswood in May, paying $14 million for the project. The assessed value of the development was $17.87 million, although more than $30 million was owed to creditors. The Bank of Montreal started foreclosure proceedings nearly a year ago. The project was shut down at that time, putting unpaid contractors out of work. Whistler Mountain’s purchase meant the first two creditors on the list, the Bank of Montreal which was owed $6.7 million and Scott Oki who was owed $3.7 million, were paid out. Whistler Mountain Ski Corp. was next on the list of creditors and was owed $7.28 million. All other creditors, including the local contractors, are not legally entitled to anything. "Trades people have invested $4 million in labour and materials," Woods said. "Intrawest and Whistler Mountain are benefitting, and it’s morally wrong that they should." Woods said he knows of a roofer who put a roof on one building, even though he knew it was unlikely he would get paid, because the building would have been in bad shape without the roof. The contractors met with Whistler Mountain in the spring, prior to the company taking possession of Taluswood. "The overriding philosophy was that Whistler Mountain would work toward some solution with the contractors," Woods said. "There was no concrete proposal, we were just setting the groundwork for an assumed completion." The contractors met with Whistler Mountain again after they took possession and it still appeared that a workable solution could be found. "When Intrawest came in we figured that was good, they were aware of our situation," said Charters. "But that isn’t what’s happening." "We went to Intrawest three weeks ago with a plan we thought would work for everyone and they’ve never got back to us." Intrawest has hired Amako Construction to finish 16 partially completed units. Other units will be redesigned and built on the existing foundations. But Woods says even counting all the foundations the project is only 1/3 completed and estimates it will take another five years to finish. "Obviously there’s a dollar to be made," he said. "But if Intrawest doesn’t try to do the right thing it will always be remembered. "To ignore what’s gone on previously would be out of character for Intrawest."

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