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Council turns down Intrawest parking swap

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Resort company must pay cash in lieu of hotel parking stalls in village

Council has asked Intrawest to pay more than $1.5 million in lieu of the company providing parking stalls at its new hotel development near the Holiday Inn.

The company had hoped to transfer most of the required parking stalls to their Creekside underground parking lot to avoid some of the fees but council voted against the proposed parking swap.

"I think we would be better serving the community in receiving the funds," said Councillor Ken Melamed during a lengthy debate at Monday’s council meeting.

During the debate, which stretched over an hour, Intrawest’s two ongoing developments, the hotel in the village and the underground parking in Creekside, were discussed in detail.

Council heard about the new 83-room upscale hotel/condo development in the village. The company must provide 132 parking stalls for that development or pay $20,000 in lieu of each stall, according to a municipal bylaw.

Instead of paying fees in lieu, the company proposed a trade-off, which included:

· adding a fourth floor to their underground parking lot in Creekside, which would take care of 103-hotel parking stalls;

· creating 10 stalls at the hotel site by getting rid of the existing car wash area;

· providing fees in lieu for the remaining 19 stalls at $20,000 each, totalling $380,000;

· providing an additional cash contribution of $250,000 for transportation related improvements in the village; and

· promising not to allow pay parking at the Creekside location for three years unless the company creates a 500-stall parking lot at a satellite location.

"I’m not comfortable with the arrangement being offered," said Councillor Kristi Wells.

Wells asked Eric Gerlach, director of development for Intrawest Resort Development Group, what the company had originally intended to do about the parking fees when they bought the hotel development rights two years ago from Larco.

Gerlach said they had planned to provide cash in lieu for the majority of the stalls but those fees were $12,500 at the time. They have jumped up to $20,000 in the last four months.

Wells was also curious about the parking fees given in lieu and where they are used.

At the meeting council was told that there is currently $1.2 million sitting in a fund from parking stall "in lieu" fees. That money must be used for municipal parking facilities.

With that information in mind, Wells put the motion before council that rather than moving forward with the Creekside swap, Intrawest should pay $12,500 per stall as they originally negotiated when they bought the hotel.

Council added that the $1.5 million from the stalls should not be "in lieu" of the stalls, rather a contribution. This means the money can go towards any transportation-related improvement including transit, rather than going into a fund solely for municipal parking.

Although Melamed pointed out that council was not proposing to roll back other fees, which have increased in recent months, he supported Wells’ motion to reduce the price of the stalls.

Councillor’s Marianne Wade, Gordon McKeever and Caroline Lamont all supported the resolution with Councillor Nick Davies the only one absent from the meeting.

The mayor was the lone voice to support the parking swap.

"I think we’re making a mistake," he said to the five councillors at the meeting.

"I think we should build the parking.

"The decision you make today, you make forever."

Lamont added she was concerned that down the road Intrawest would control the stalls in Creekside and have the ability to collect revenue from them in the future.

"I’m disappointed that Intrawest would control these stalls," she said, as she voted against the Intrawest proposal.

"I believe they’re our stalls."

After a 10-minute recess at the meeting in which the proponent had a quick conference with municipal staff, council was presented with another option.

Administrator Jim Godfrey said the company would be more than happy to allow the 103 stalls at the Creekside parkade to stay in the municipality’s control for any revenue that could be collected in the future.

He also added that Intrawest most likely will not dig deeper to a fourth underground level if they cannot get the parking swap because it’s not financially feasible.

Council was not swayed in their decision. They did, however, approve the Franz’s Trail parkade for another full level of parking, should the company wish to build it.

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