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Council approves CUPE deal

End of an impasse that lasted more than two years



The municipality and its striking unionized workers have finally found some common ground.

Council ratified the contract between the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2010 this week.

CUPE had voted in favour of the agreement two weeks ago.

The deal marks the end of an impasse that lasted more than two years.

"The municipality is pleased to have reached a fair and equitable settlement for both parties through negotiation and mediation," said RMOW spokesperson Diana Waltmann.

The deal sees the 25 CUPE employees get benefit improvements and wage increases matching those of non-union staff.

It also recognizes the utilities department, which joined CUPE in 2004, as part of the union. Other departments include bylaw officers and wastewater treatment workers.

CUPE was without a collective agreement for more than two years and on limited job action since February 2005.

The new three-year agreement is retroactive and expires at the end of 2006. It is expected the two sides will be back at the bargaining table in the fall.

Negotiations, site work on Rainbow still ongoing

The Rainbow rezoning bylaws are 98 per cent complete but the deal is still not ready to be approved, council learned Monday night.

Bob MacPherson, the RMOW’s general manager of planning and development, explained there are still outstanding issues to be settled with the developers before the deal is ready to go before council for its first approval.

There are significant challenges with the Land Transfer Agreement, which is essentially the financial contract between the developers and the RMOW.

For example, MacPherson explained the developers have written into the contract that the seniors housing would revert to market housing if there is no uptake from the seniors community. Many items, he added, are at the sole discretion of the Rainbow proponents.

This is a concern given that the municipality is on the line for more than $11 million in this deal.

He also said the subdivision servicing plans fell short of staff’s expectations when they were submitted. For example, some of the road grades do not meet standards, there are difficult cut and fill sections and some sites may not be buildable.

Still, MacPherson was optimistic these issues could be resolved and said staff was meeting with the Rainbow proponents later this week.

The goal remains to have the development approved in time for a spring groundbreaking. The developers will need about a year to prepare the site before the housing is ready to be built. At the time it is expected one-third of the housing will be delivered each year for three years.

Monday’s update was given partly in response to a concerned community member, Ben Thomas, who wrote to council looking for answers.

He was at the meeting Monday night and explained to council that he was just looking for some confidence that the deal was still moving along.

Councillor Ralph Forsyth said council shared the community’s sense of urgency about the project.

Cold Beer and Wine Store move gathering support

Two local businessmen are hoping their rezoning application to move The Boot’s Cold Beer and Wine Store to Nesters will be ready for council’s consideration at the next meeting.

Owners Andrew Ellott and Colin Johnson are still conducting community surveys to gauge support or opposition for their proposed move.

To date, the informal surveys taken outside Nesters Market have shown overwhelming support for the move. Of more than 560 signatures, 522 support a liquor store being located at Nesters Square.

The owners also highlighted a misconception that was presented to council at the Jan. 9 meeting. At that time Nesters neighbourhood resident Kelly Lee Richards told council she had concerns about the store moving to Nesters and exacerbating the already difficult parking situation there.

She said renovations were already underway in the store even before the owners had council permission to relocate there.

Municipal staff confirmed they had issued a stop work order on the renovations.

But Ellott and Johnson say they never began renovations. Instead it was the landlord who was doing some work in the store location to seal off the downstairs floor from the upstairs. It was the landlord who was issued the stop work order.

The owners are hoping to be on the agenda at the Feb. 6 council meeting. There will be a public hearing in the following weeks if there is council support for the relocation.