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Crankworx producers chosen for May festival

Council News: CUPE deal ratified, municipal investments up

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Crankworx Events Inc., the producers of Whistler's decade-long iconic mountain biking festival, has been handpicked to revolutionize the May long weekend.

The producers were chosen through an RFP process to put on a festival over the problem-plagued weekend with a municipal budget of $290,000.

The decision was announced at Tuesday's council meeting, as Norm McPhail, general manager of corporate and community services, asked council to approve a select committee, with an aim to changing Whistler's May long weekend experience, increasingly tarnished with a trouble-making crowd.

Where Crankworx will work on the festival, the committee is tasked with exploring new alternatives for the weekend to help alleviate some of the negative experiences.

It's not unlike the highly successful First Night Program, explained McPhail, of the once problem-filled New Year's Eve.

"The First Night program took a similar set of negative circumstances, and turned it into a positive community collaborative," he wrote in his report. "This has all but mitigated the negative aspects previously associated with New Year's Eve in Whistler."

This past May long weekend there was a rash of vandalism, including broken hotel windows and a newspaper box thrown through the front door of a coffee shop.

A working group was established in 2005, tasked with dealing with the problem, and changes were made including additional officers and increased highway patrol work.

"But it hasn't been enough," said McPhail. "There's more that we can do."

The 2014 May Long Weekend Committee will be made up of six members: one representative each from the RCMP, the accommodation sector, the food and beverage sector, one council member, one member-at-large (preferably with Whistler events and festivals experience) and the general manager of corporate and community services. Councillor John Grills will be the council rep.

Councillor Jayson Faulkner said he hoped a May long weekend festival could be modelled after the summer's hugely successful, but largely relaxed, Wanderlust yoga festival as opposed to the intense, party-fuelled festival focus that defines Crankworx."If it's just going to attract a more energy, party attitude, we're nowhere," said Faulkner, joking his vote is for a masters seniors' weekend.

"I think that weekend is really missing some signature event we could revisit," agreed Councillor Roger McCarthy.

Union contract sealed with CUPE

The municipality and its unionized CUPE 2010 workers have ratified a contract, securing a four-year wage deal.

The deal will see a 6.75 per cent wage increase over four years for the 27 municipal wastewater treatment plant and utilities workers who are part of CUPE local 2010.

"I'm really happy that we were able to conclude these negotiations," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden at Tuesday's meeting.

She said there was a point when temperatures at the bargaining table were on the rise, but both sides found resolution.

The deal is the same negotiated for non-union staff earlier this year.

CUPE ratified the deal last week while council approved it in its closed meeting earlier Tuesday.

Municipal investments up

The municipality's investment income made a gain of almost $250,000 for the nine months ending Sept. 30, according to the third-quarter investment report.

In his report to council, director of finance Ken Roggeman explained the gain is a result of better performance of the MFA (Municipal Finance Authority) Bond Fund offsetting the continued underperformance and decreasing market value in the Renaissance Real Return Bond fund.

As of Sept. 30, the municipality had a market value of almost $92 million in various funds, bonds, GIC's, and term deposits. At the same time last year that market value was $83 .3 million and $75 million in 2011.

The MFA Intermediate Fund, for example, shows an annualized percentage increase of 1.34, while the Renaissance Real Return Bond Fund shows a decrease of 14.13.

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