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Council considers roughly $900,000 in fee for service requests

Chamber of Commerce looks for bump in funding

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Four community groups are asking for more than $900,000 in fee for service agreements with the municipality this year, slightly more than in the 2012 budget.

They are: the Whistler Museum, the Chamber of Commerce, the Whistler Arts Council and Whistler Animals Galore (WAG).

Three groups are looking for roughly the same funding as last year with the Chamber hoping for a $40,000 boost in funds to go towards two specific strategies.

Collectively, the organizations will provide a host of services for the municipality and the funding is crucial for each of their operations.

Last year council committed $857,000 to the groups. That same number is budgeted for this year. Council is set to make its decision on the fee for service agreements for these four groups at the Tuesday, April 3 council meeting.

In a recent presentation to council each group made a pitch for what it plans to do with the municipal monies.

Whistler Museum

The museum is hoping council will hold the line at its $150,000 fee for service commitment.

It accounts for 40 per cent of the museum's budget, with 50 per cent coming from grants and the remaining 10 per cent coming from things like admissions.

Among the things on the museum's 2012 program are: installing a memorial to Whistler pioneer Seppo Makinen by the Passive Haus, creating audio tours in five different languages, and building on the programs offered this past year such as summer walking tours and the children's Lego building competition.

Whistler Chamber of Commerce (WCC)

Chamber president Fiona Famulak is asking council for a three-year fee for service commitment totaling more than $569,000.

It hopes to deliver two projects with that money — the Whistler Service Strategy, which will cost $385,000 and the Economic Enhancement Strategy at $184,000 (see related story).

The former will look at service culture in every place of business and deliver online tutorials, a summer Spirit Pass program, among other things.

"We believe that the service strategy is crucial to the long term economic success of the resort," Famulak told council.

The Economic Enhancement Strategy is to help Whistler understand who's doing business in the resort and what Whistler needs to do to attract those who want to do business in the resort. It will include putting on the Outlook Economic Symposium as well as deliver the Whistler Report Card, which is a month-to-month snapshot of the economic engine of Whistler, including statistics from accommodation, food and beverage, real estate and business permits.

"It's going to be as comprehensive as we can make it," she said.

For 2012 specifically the Chamber is looking for $152,000, up from the $110,000 it got last year.

Whistler Animals Galore (WAG)

WAG is looking to council for $60,000, the same as last year.

"We completely understand that you are the council that is cutting back rather than giving more," said WAG board member Sue Eckersley.

She asked, however, that council consider maintaining WAG's funding.

Eckersley peppered her presentation to council with pictures of cats and dogs rescued by WAG.

In 2011 the organization helped 265 animals, which Eckersley called a "significant increase" over the year before, when it helped 165 animals.

This year WAG's operating budget is pegged at $300,000 — a $20,000 increase over last year.

Last year WAG raised $91,000 in fundraising efforts. A further $75,000 came from grants and $46,000 from adoption fees.

Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden told Eckersley that WAG does a marvelous job. She knows from personal experience when she lost her daughter's dog.

"They (WAG) dropped everything to help me find Bob," said the mayor.

Bob was waiting for her at the front door when she got home.

Whistler Arts Council (WAC)

WAC's executive director admitted following WAG with its pictures of sad-eyed puppies is a hard act to follow.

"Have we got any pictures of starving artists?" joked Doti Neidermayer as she began her council presentation.

WAC is looking for $544,000, roughly $8,000 more than last year's fee for service amount. A large portion of the fee for service will cover Millennium Place costs, which were integrated to the art's council budget last year.

That's roughly 42 per cent of its total $1.32 million budget.

Neidermayer said 67 per cent of WAC's budget comes from fee for service and grants from other levels of governments and foundations. The remainder comes from earned revenues including workshop fees, among other things.

She spoke of WAC's role in the community from long-standing arts programming like the Children's Art Festival and Bizaar Bazaar to the continually evolving events coming to MY Place.

This year, 2012, marks WAC's 30th anniversary in the community, with Neidermayer saying it's a great time for arts and culture.

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