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Art museum would draw visitors

Vancouver developer Michael Audain gives more insight on plans to house B.C. art here



In all my years this is one of the most exciting documents I've ever signed," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

"Me too," replied Michael Audain.

The quiet exchange between the pair on Dec. 18 capped off the official signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for the new Audain Art Museum and summed up the all-around sentiment to a tee.

It reveals just how enthusiastic Whistler is about the project as well as Michael Audain himself.

"It was completely unexpected, unanticipated and yet it's exactly in line with what our goals and objectives are," said Wilhelm-Morden later.

The tall Vancouver developer, art collector and philanthropist cut an imposing figure in council chambers at the last public meeting of council in 2012 as he took the microphone, speaking to the community for first time since he revealed his plans this fall to build a museum here to house his private collection — one of the best in Canada.

"Thank you for making the land available because without an appropriate site we couldn't do anything," said Audain, another revelation of how Whistler has pulled out all the stops including offering free municipal land, to make this happen.

Parts of Audain's art collection flashed up on the large TV screen as the MOU was signed, a tantalizing hint of what's coming to town.

The evening, and all it signified, is perhaps the icing on the cake for council as it bids farewell to its first full year in office.

Wilhelm-Morden touched briefly on some of the achievements of the past year that night.

The list is nothing the community hasn't heard before. But delivered together it reveals just how much has been accomplished in 2012.

The mayor mentioned the creation of the Council Action Plan, a high level list of council's priorities; the new Corporate Plan, outlining the work and priorities of the government; the re-invigoration of the committee system where much of the nitty-gritty work of the day is getting done at the hall from finance and audit to recreation and leisure. Council also established new committees — namely the Festival, Events and Animation Oversight Committee and the Economic Partnerships Initiatives — to help guide future difficult decisions.

Its first budget in 2012 had zero property tax increases. And there were the early decisions this term to scrap pay parking in Lots 4 and 5, keeping it just in Lots 1, 2 and 3, and to tackle the prolific illegal space issue in the resort.

"It really has been an exhilarating year this year," said the mayor.

There was also the news the Ironman is relocating to Whistler for five years, said the mayor in the same breath mentioning the great success of one of the best Whistler Film Festivals this fall.