Tennis courts damaged by developer 

Club lands at the centre of concern over bed units

A bid to build temporary employee housing near the Whistler Racquet Club left three of the facility's outdoor courts damaged, the RMOW confirmed in an email this week.

The damage was the result of the installation of a crane before the Games, as developer Alvaro Ponce de Leon attempted to drum up support for the Whistler Workforce temporary housing project. The project would have included up to 420 beds for resort employees. The venture failed with a lack of interest on the part of local businesses, and the crane was removed before the start of the Games in February.

Ponce de Leon had to post a bond with the municipality to erect the crane on site, and that bond was returned without knowledge of the damage.

According to Bill Brown, acting manager of community life, "The bond was returned once all of Mr. Ponce de Leon's chattels were removed from the site. The RMOW was not aware of the damage until after the bond was returned."

The municipality is working with Holborn, which owns the site, on the issue. Pique asked what the extent of the damage was, how much it would cost to repair and what Ponce de Leon's responsibilities are to make restitution, but did not receive a reply by press time.

This is the second time the tennis club has been in the news recently. Members of the Whistler Tennis Association are upset that Holborn has cut hours of operation, raised prices and allowed the maintenance of the facility to slide. Holborn is currently responsible for operating the club as a community amenity after purchasing the property - and obligations - from the previous owner, Park Georgia. However, council admitted on Tuesday that they don't have the power to compel Holborn to operate the club to a higher standard.

The land was originally zoned as RR1, which would have allowed for the construction of a few homes, when Park Georgia put forward a proposal to build a world-class tennis facility on the site in exchange for bed units. At the time the RMOW was exchanging bed units for tourist amenities, opening the door for the Fairmont Chateau Whistler and Nicklaus North developments.

The Park Georgia proposal included a hotel that was never built. The current tennis facility with a heated bubble was only supposed to be a temporary facility until the development went ahead.

Holborn, which purchased the property for $27 million, has gone as far as third reading to rezone the property as residential, with duplexes, townhomes and condos instead of a hotel, as well as seniors housing and an $18 million tennis and fitness facility. With the economic crisis in 2008 curbing demand for real estate, Holborn never put the proposal forward for fourth reading - something that would have triggered deadlines for construction of the first phase of housing and the tennis/fitness facility.

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