The construction industry was unusually busy in the run-up to the 2010 Games, but even as the resort approaches build-out in terms of bed units, Whistler remains a busy place for builders.
Through the first half of 2009 the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) collected $340,000 more in building permits than the planning department budgeted for, or close to double what was expected.
That doubling trend has continued into 2010.
In rounded numbers, the department has already collected $134,000 in permit fees through the end of May, well ahead of the roughly $76,000 budgeted for that period based on estimates.
"It was really slow in January, February and most of March, but the last few months there has been a steady stream of people coming through the door," said Joe Mooney, manager of the RMOW building department. "It's not like the old days where we were putting up hundreds of millions of dollars of new construction, but there is a lot of renovation work going on, and there's the Rainbow project obviously. Projects in general are a lot smaller than what we've seen in the past, but it's still fairly busy."
The costs of permits vary, depending on the project.
From January 1 to May 31 in 2009 the RMOW sold 167 permits for residential properties and 43 for commercial. Through the first five months of 2010 the RMOW sold 132 residential permits and 46 commercial.
The 2009 year was also unusual given the work on the athletes' village/Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood and Fitzsimmons Walk, the renovation of the Aava Hotel, and numerous other projects pushed through before the 2010 Games. Without those projects the construction industry was expected to slow down.
The number of permits issued was slow during the Olympics and Paralympics, but the department picked up as soon as the Games left town.
"We had 178 total permits for this period in 2010 versus 210 the previous year, so it's not that far off considering that for the first few months of the year nobody was doing anything. We've seen a flood come through the door in the last month and a half," said Mooney.
"It's anybody's guess as to what will happen going forward, we can only really give numbers up to the day. We thought it would slow down, but really we're just seeing a different type of application."
The Canadian Home Builders Association, Sea to Sky, talked to members and found that contractors are starting to get busier heading into summer with current developments such as Rainbow, Baxter Creek, Cheakamus Crossing and Wedge Woods.