Whistler makes bid for UBCM convention 

Thousands of delegates from around province could be here in 2014

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Whistler wants to host B.C.'s politicians and bureaucrats in September 2014 in an effort to bolster business in the shoulder season.

Council gave the nod to staff Tuesday night to bid on hosting the 2014 Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention from Sept. 22-26 next year.

It's not clear how many cities are bidding on the 2014 convention but not many communities have the infrastructure to host thousands at one time.

If successful, this would be the third time Whistler has hosted the convention, having welcomed delegates from around the province in 2002 and in 2010.

"September 2010 is the busiest September on record for Whistler and this was as a result of the UBCM Convention," stated the staff report to council that was part of the Tuesday meeting.

That year the convention initially cost the RMOW $100,000 but it recouped more than $68,000 from the $20 surcharge on the 3,438 room nights sold within the convention block. The final cost to host it was just over $31,000.

The RMOW is proposing to add another $20 nightly room surcharge to each hotel room in 2014 with a preliminary budget of $45,000 to cover the remaining costs.

The report states: "It is anticipated that any costs that will have to be paid by the municipality to host the Convention will result in higher economic benefits to the resort community."

Councillor Roger McCarthy questioned whether or not Whistler should up the $20 surcharge but was told that could make the bid less competitive.

"This (the surcharge) is typical for other UBCM conferences," said Shannon Story, manager of legislative services, in her presentation to council.

The RMOW will be notified on May 1 if it is successful in securing the convention. 

Deadline extended for parking amnesty

The municipality has extended the deadline for its amnesty-parking program, giving parking ticket holders more time to get a deal on their fines.

"I took the opportunity to clear off mine," joked Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden during her Mayor's Report at Tuesday's council meeting.

The program has been extended to March 15 after requests from members of the public who were not able to settle their tickets before March. It applies to all parking tickets older than 30 days.

To date 331 tickets have been paid, reported the mayor.

For every payment, residents can get 50 per cent off on the amount owed and $5 of the payment will got to the animal shelter, Whistler Animals Galore (WAG). More than $1,600 has been raised for WAG so far.

"This is such a win-win," said Shannon Broderick, WAG's director of shelter operations, in a municipal press release. "The money collected through the parking ticket amnesty program will go towards saving an animal, whether it is lifesaving surgery or a simple spay. WAG is extremely grateful to all of our many supporters, and this is another great way the community can help."

In 2009 almost 500 tickets were settled with the donations going to the Whistler Food Bank, which received $2,500.

The late parking tickets can be settled at municipal hall in person from Monday to Friday. 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Education open house set for April 

The Learning and Education Strategy task force is preparing to share the lessons learned over the last several months, researching economic development opportunities within the sphere of education.

Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, who sits on the task force along with Councillor Andrée Janyk and Chief Administrative Officer Mike Furey, said the open house is an opportunity to share what they've learned with the community. The task force will also be looking to consult the community at that time.

The open house will take place on Thursday, April 4 at the Whistler Conference Centre from 5-8 p.m.

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