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Council responds to village construction woes

Staff investigates ways to help businesses affected by ongoing construction



Council is worried about the impacts of village construction on small businesses, after receiving a letter from the manager of Fiber Options/Whistler Hemp Company.

"For the past 11 months we here have had to endure constant disturbances due to construction," wrote manager Peter Skeels. "It came to a point where business was so bad that we decided to close for September and October."

Fiber Options/Whistler Hemp Company is in the Timberline Lodge, right beside the Crystal Lodge, which now is undergoing extensive renovations.

After reading the letter, Councillor Nick Davies suggested council put a bylaw in place which would require an amelioration plan as part of the permitting process for any businesses planning to renovate. This would minimize the effect a construction project has on neighbouring businesses and would inject a bit of fairness into the process, particularly as more and more hotels and buildings in the village undergo renovations.

Councillor Ken Melamed also suggested the municipality create a "rainy day" relief fund to help those businesses.

Skeels’s concerns were detailed in a letter received by council Monday night.

Three years ago there was construction at Tapley's, which impacted their business. That was followed by eight months of construction on the Whistler Conference Centre. Now it's the neighbouring Crystal Lodge.

"Mr. Mayor, as a small business we do not have deep pockets. We can only weather so much and I am very worried that this is the straw that will break the camel's back."

Skeels suggested there could be tax relief for businesses that are affected by construction. In the future he suggested that council could ask potential contractors to include compensation to nearby businesses, just as they are asked by the municipality to provide money or space for employee housing.

"We understand in the long haul this construction will be a benefit to us," said Skeels. "What we are worried about is that we won't be around to reap the benefits of the improvements."

Bob MacPherson, general manager of planning and development, said there is a construction management plan in place for the Crystal Lodge renovations but the project has proved bigger than expected.

The letter and council's input was referred to staff.

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