WBC hires president for athletes’ village development 

Local resident Joe Redmond takes helm in February

click to enlarge Joe Redmond
  • Joe Redmond

A new face will head up the development team of Whistler’s athletes’ village.

Architect/developer Joe Redmond has been headhunted to fill the position of president of the Whistler Development Corporation as of Feb. 1. He replaces interim Chief Operating Officer Gary Cowan, who had been in the role of COO for about four months.

Redmond said the timing was right for him to accept the job.

“This seemed a good thing to do,” he said. “It’s in my backyard and it’s with the Olympics.

According to the WDC board chair, Redmond was a good fit to head the team charged with building the $131 million development.

“He’s a Whistler resident,” said Eric Martin. “He’s incredibly well respected in the industry.”

Not only does the WDC need to build to meet the needs of roughly 2,000 athletes and support staff during the 2010 Games, but also the needs of hundreds of local employees who will buy the housing after the Games.

Another factor to recommend Redmond to the job as WDC president was his previous role as vice president of UBC Properties Trust on the campus of the University of British Columbia.

His work there, heading up an initiative to develop housing and community services on campus, is very similar to the work at the athletes’ village but on a much larger scale.

“There are many similarities between my work at UBC and the project in Whistler,” said Redmond. “Like the RMOW (Resort Municipality of Whistler), UBC set up a company to develop a community on the campus. The development was aimed at providing affordable housing for faculty and staff, but beyond that the community had to be vibrant and sustainable. Many of the environmental initiatives being developed at the athletes’ village are similar to the work we did at UBC.”

He recognizes, however, that there are unique challenges to building the athletes’ village at this particular time.

“I think like anything in British Columbia, particularly in the Lower Mainland and Whistler, the biggest challenge will be making sure that the project is done on time,” said Redmond. “We don’t have the luxury like a private developer to say ‘if it’s done three months later that’s alright.’ So certainly the time constraint is most important. And secondly is the budgeting of it. And there’s always a fine line between achieving timelines and going over budget.

“So I think those two things together, that’s the challenge. The work that’s been done to date is good, it’s actually very good and they’ve made a lot of headway on the servicing and the roads, and some of the construction is well underway now. So I think it’s a matter of keeping up the momentum and getting the right people to do the job correctly.”

The WDC has recently approved an updated business plan that is expected to go before council at the second meeting in February.

Redmond said that the updated plan is essentially on track, save for a slight budget increase.

“There’s been a slight increase in the budget but there’s been a slight increase in the amount of building being done as well, so the budget is offset by the additional building,” he said.

Redmond has owned a home in Whistler for the past 25 years and commuted for the last eight years to his job at UBC.

Before that, he was president of Intercon Developments, involved in residential and commercial developments up and down the West Coast from B.C. to California, and later was president of Hearthstone Retirement Services and International Care Corporation, responsible for the development of retirement healthcare communities across Canada.

“The athletes’ village is such an amazing development,” he said. “It isn’t very often that you get to be involved in building a community. This job provides me the opportunity to contribute to my community by helping develop much needed housing that is affordable and sustainable. And, of course, there is the thrill of being involved in the Olympics as well.”

Gary Cowan will remain in his consulting capacity with the WDC.

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