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Council paves way for Food Bank relocation

Spring Creek to become hub for social services in Whistler



Food Bank users may soon be making the journey to Spring Creek to pick up critical food supplies.

Council is in the final stages of rezoning the empty day care space in the south end of town to allow for a social services hub to operate there.

The food bank, which is used by 60 to 100 people every week, will not be as central as its current location. And the bus service to Spring Creek can be sporadic. There was some recognition of this at the council table.

"(It's) not a perfect home but one I'm sure will serve the community's needs..." said Councillor Grant Lamont.

At last month's public hearing there was widespread support for the move from the social services community.

Lorna Van Straaten, executive director of Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) explained further to Pique .

"When Spring Creek came up it just seemed like such a perfect fit," she said.

"Centralization is part of our long term strategic goal. It's something we've wanted to achieve for a long time so it's really a great solution for a long time."

As for the concerns that the Food Bank will be out of the way and difficult for clients to access, Van Straaten said users found the current Lorimer Road location out of the way too.

"Let's face it - our clients are finding us and they're not complaining about wherever they have to go," she said.

The Food Bank, she added, was growing out of its home at the bottom of Lorimer Road. It has been operating out of a trailer that was in contravention of zoning bylaws and there was no guarantee it could continue to operate on that site.

"With increased demand and the need for further food storage, it just seemed like it's a better solution all the way around to move it," said Van Straaten.

The Spring Creek location has a back wing on the building with a separate entrance and there's a warm hallway where people can wait if there's a lineup for food. There's also enough room for organizers to work and assemble the bags and store food.

The numbers at the Food Bank have stabilized, said Van Straaten, coming down from the user highs seen in the spring.

In addition to the new hub for the Food Bank, one wing of the building will be dedicated to the Howe Sound Women's Society. Zero Ceiling and Sea to Sky Community Services will both have a dedicated office space and there will be common areas for all to share.

Van Straaten said they see this facility as a volunteer hub for Whistler.

Councillor Ralph Forsyth did not support third reading of the rezoning, citing his concerns over losing the day care space.

Councillor Chris Quinlan answered those concerns, saying the space has been empty for three years because it doesn't meet the day care's needs.

Meanwhile, Councillor Ted Milner also put forward a Notice of Motion at the meeting to ask council to consider extending the current lease for the Whistler Waldorf School through to 2013. The school operates on municipal land at Spruce Grove. Council will discuss Milner's motion at its last council meeting together on Tuesday Nov. 15 before the municipal election on Nov. 19.