Rather than pay for outdoor performers to spice up the village streets this summer, Tourism Whistler is asking the municipality to relax its bylaws to allow busking in the resort.
"It saves critical Tourism Whistler funds," explained Oliver Flaser, the organizations director of marketing, at Mondays council meeting.
Tourism Whistler has funded the summer street performers program for years and their research shows it enhances the visitor experience in Whistler.
Rather than pay for the talent again this summer they are now suggesting performers can collect their own funds on the streets, which is not allowed under current municipal bylaws. Flaser asked council to consider a trial busking period in 2006, from the end of June until the beginning of September.
Tourism Whistler would take on the responsibility of managing the talent and Flaser said they are hoping to attract as many performers if not more than last season.
Mayor Ken Melamed said the change could encourage more local performers to put an act together and showcase their talent.
At the request of Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden municipal staff will prepare a report for council with a recommendation on the busking bylaw amendment.
Tourism Whistler is hoping to have an answer by the beginning of May.
Barrier proponent waits for answers
There is still no word on a Whistler residents proposal for a concrete barrier running the length of the Sea to Sky Highway.
Retired highway consultant Ross Walker submitted his barrier proposal to the province roughly six weeks ago but has yet to hear back on his suggestions. Earlier this year Walker got Whistler councils backing in his quest for a safer highway.
In an update to council on Monday night he explained his concerns about the lack of correspondence from the province.
The longer it drags on, he said, the more chance a barrier will not happen. The Sea to Sky Highway Improvement Project is already underway in several sections of the highway.
Mayor Ken Melamed explained he had received a phone call from the assistant deputy minister of transportation, Peter Milburn, informing him he would address Walkers barrier proposal at the April 18 council meeting. Milburn will be giving an update on the highway improvement work at that time too.
"Thats encouraging," said Walker. "At least well know where we stand."
Councillor Eckhard Zeidler expressed his appreciation to Walker for spending time investigating the barrier option in order to make the highway safer.
"We really cant say thank you enough times," said Zeidler.
WORCA gets big grant from council
Council divvied up $200,000 in grant money this week to 25 local organizations.
The biggest single grant went to the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association (WORCA) to the tune of $34,400.
Several other non-profits received upwards of $10,000 each, including the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE), the Sea to Sky Community Services Society, and the Whistler Skating Club.
"It was really compelling," said Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden of the 31 community groups who presented their plans to council.
Under the Community Charter the municipality can give one per cent of its property tax revenue in grants for a total of $259,000 this year. They purposely left some money in the account, even though they were asked for more than $400,000 in grants, to allow some leeway for needy organizations throughout the year.
Wilhelm-Morden suggested one change to the Community Enrichment Program at Mondays council meeting. She asked that council require some accountability from the groups who receive money in the future.
She does not want it to be a particularly onerous task but she pointed out that council just handed out $200,000 in taxpayers money and they should ensure the money is going where the organizations say it is going.
With councils support Wilhelm-Morden asked for a staff report outlining a possible accountability process for the Community Enrichment Program.
Last year council approved $183,000 in grants through this program.