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Council briefs: Extra $50,000 goes towards conference centre



The municipality will shell out $50,000 more this year towards maintaining the Telus Conference Centre than was originally planned, following a unanimous vote by council on Tuesday night.

In a report to council, Lisa Landry, general manager of economic viability for the municipality, explained that originally only $100,000 was earmarked to go towards improving the building in Whistler Village.

Landry wrote in the report that OmiCrom's analysis carried out in 2006 recommended that repairs needed to be made to the conference centre over a five year period. Last year, $150,000 was budgeted for the upkeep, although only $100,000 was spent.

"The OmiCrom report cited the need to replace the chillers in the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system," wrote Landry. "As it turns out, this part of the HVAC system recently failed and requires replacing now."

Council approved the amendment to Whistler's Five-Year Financial Bylaw without any discussion on Tuesday.

The money will come out of the four per cent Resort Municipality Transfer Tax, formerly known as the hotel tax.


Council approves changes to Whistler bear program

The bear management program in Whistler is going through an overhaul, after changes at the provincial level.

On Tuesday, Heather Beresford, environmental stewardship manager for the municipality, explained that the B.C. government has decided to stop having a Bear Response Officer based in Whistler between May and December.

The provincial Conservation Officer Service and the municipality have jointly paid for the position over the last year, with the Resort Municipality of Whistler contributing $30,000 annually.

Beresford spoke highly of the Bear Response Officer position, saying it allowed Whistler to respond to more conflict calls and helped place priority on non-lethal bear management.

She said Conservation Officers - who are located in Squamish - have agreed to fund a similar program if Whistler would spend a similar $30,000 to fund extra operational costs to deliver non-lethal strategies, including overnight stays in Whistler hotels and additional vehicle expenses.

Following her report to council on Tuesday, council voted unanimously to approve the program change.

Total property tax bills increase four per cent

Whistler homeowners should receive their property tax bill sometime next month, Anna Lamb, manager of financial services, said on Tuesday.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler makes every effort possible to mail tax rates as soon as possible to accommodate Whistler's unusually large number of second-homeowners, she said. Tax bills are due July 2.

Even though the municipality upped its portion of the tax bill by seven per cent this year, the total rate for residential properties should be about four per cent. For most businesses, because of significant decreases in assessed value and other taxes, property taxes won't increase.

In other words, a property owner in Whistler with a home assessed at about $600,000 this year can expect to pay about $2,500 in property taxes. And a business assessed at about $700,000 would pay about $11,200.

Tax bills are composed of municipal, school, municipal finance authority, B.C. Assessment, Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and regional hospital district taxes.