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Council running out of time

As term winds down push is on to get projects approved before election



As much as some of them would like tangible evidence of projects completed during their term in office, time is running out for this council.

Of particular concern is the lack of employee housing built these past three years, even though it was one of the highest priorities for this council when they took office in 2002.

That much was obvious Monday night as some members of council pushed to have the Holborn redevelopment project rezoned before November’s election. That project is set to deliver seniors housing as well as a new tennis facility.

Councillor Marianne Wade pushed to create a timeline that would put the project on track to rezoning by election day, on Nov. 19. Like Councillor Gord McKeever, she said she was willing to attend special council meetings to see that happen.

But it appears there simply isn’t enough time.

"We will try and make these things happen if they’re priorities of council," said Bob MacPherson, general manager of planning and development.

He cautioned, however, that his job is to get the rezoning done well and in a way that is defensible if challenged in court.

"There’s a lot more to getting these deals done than bringing them to council every two weeks," he added.

The discussion was prompted by a report to council outlining their priorities. This came as a result of an earlier request from Councillor Kristi Wells.

There are several priorities. Among them the Rainbow development, the athletes village, the Paralympic arena, the administrator search, procedure bylaw, Shoestring Lodge re-development and negotiations for First Nations development in Whistler.

"If we choose to focus on one or two of these… we can deliver," said Wells. "It’s about picking your priorities.

"My concern here is a spring start to the seniors housing and resolution (to) a project we’ve been working on for two and a half years."

But when Wade put a motion forward to drive the Holborn rezoning forward, she could not get a majority to support her. Only Councillors McKeever and Caroline Lamont were on board.

"I think the motion is quite pointless," said Councillor Ken Melamed. "This is a demonstration of how this council slows projects down."

Councillor Nick Davies also took issue with comments, which he believed put staff’s ability into question.

"There is an implication in these comments that people have not been doing as much as they can," he said, adding that it was disrespectful of staff.

The failure not to achieve some of these projects by the election is disappointing said McKeever. This council has launched a number of initiatives but for several reasons, some beyond their control, they have not been able to see them through to completion.

He said: "I am disappointed with the number of projects that aren’t going to get completed this term."