Whistler Blackcomb staff housing building gets third reading 

Council briefs: Whistler's GM of resort experience set to retire; Community Life Survey underway

click to enlarge IMAGE COURTESY OF THE RMOW - An aerial overview of the site of the proposed new Whistler Blackcomb staff housing building.
  • Image courtesy of the RMOW
  • An aerial overview of the site of the proposed new Whistler Blackcomb staff housing building.

A rezoning for a 240-bed Whistler Blackcomb (WB) staff housing building is headed for adoption after council gave it third reading on Jan. 21.

The proposed building is six storeys tall with 66, two-bedroom units each about 40 square metres in size. The units include a shared kitchen and bathroom, and would be targeted toward WB's first-year and returning seasonal employees (four per unit).

The rezoning is to increase the floor space ratio, site coverage and building height, as well as add a parking variance and another variance for a small portion of the building encroaching into a 7.6-metre setback.

While WB initially proposed rental rates of $400 per room, the mountain operator increased its proposed rates to $600 per bed ($2,400 per two-bedroom unit), citing higher-than-expected construction costs and the seasonality of occupancy.

But after reviewing a development pro forma submitted by WB, Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) staff said they support a maximum rent of $1,900 per two-bedroom unit, which WB agreed to.

With 66 new parking stalls estimated to be needed for the new building and the applicant proposing just 14, a determination of appropriate transit service levels at peak and morning hours was required prior to third reading.

RMOW staff worked with BC Transit to do just that, and expect that the incremental service costs will be about $44,000 per year for the next 25 years.

Rather than enter into a 25-year agreement, Vail Resorts requested it make an up-front payment of $1.04 million—equivalent to the parking in lieu fee of $20,000 per stall—which staff supported.

The money will go into a transit fund dedicated to the incremental service requirements for Route 7, which services staff housing.

RMOW staff also supports a minimum of two car-share vehicles on site, with more being added based on demand.

The rezoning will come back for adoption at an upcoming meeting.

GM OF RESORT EXPERIENCE JAN JANSEN TO RETIRE

Jan Jansen, Whistler's general manager of resort experience, is retiring after 30 years with the RMOW, Mayor Jack Crompton announced at the Jan. 21 council meeting.

"I just want to say to you Jan, publicly, how grateful we are for your passion, your wisdom, [and] your leadership for our community," Crompton said.

"You are such a pleasure to work with, and we will miss you, but your mark on this community and this organization is deep and clear and obvious."

Jansen was promoted to his current senior management position in late 2009.

Over the years, he has contributed to projects like the Meadow Park Sports Centre, Rainbow Park, Village Park, Valley Trail and Creekside, to name just a few.

He also played a large role in the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, serving at various times as director of Whistler venues, project manager of the Whistler Sliding Centre and executive director of Games operations.

"Whether on property site inspection in a hard hat and safety vest or at the boardroom table, Jan has been a team player that has been a foundational person in this organization and this community," chief administrative officer Mike Furey said in a memo to RMOW staff.

Check back with Pique for more on Jansen's retirement.

COMMUNITY LIFE SURVEY UNDERWAY

Whistler's annual Community Life Survey is officially underway.

Phone surveys of Whistler residents and second homeowners began Jan. 17, with a web survey to follow in early February.

The survey is an important tool for the RMOW in evaluating its performance and gaining feedback on community life for residents.

Its results help council and staff identify priorities and build municipal plans.

"The Community Life Survey is a crucial piece of information for us as we make decisions and track trends in the community. I encourage everyone to take some time to fill out the survey online and if selected by phone, please take the opportunity to provide your valuable input," said Mayor Jack Crompton, in a release.

The random phone survey will take place until 500 interviews of 300 full-time residents and 200 second homeowners are completed. The web survey—which offers an opportunity to give more in-depth responses—goes live Feb. 3.

Results will be presented to council this spring.

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