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Financial tools, land bank, CDP — the candidates speak

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The comprehensive sustainability plan must be completed. The efforts to date have been less than successful because they have failed to engage the public in a meaningful exchange of ideas and directions on this plan. I will not rehash the time and money wasted on consultants and public meetings that completely ignored the residents’ desires. I will push for an expedited conclusion to this process. I will ensure that we use effective and measurable methods of public consultation. This will ensure that the process is driven by the people it was designed to serve. The reason we must work as quickly and efficiently as possible to complete this plan is that it is tied directly to the land bank and residential housing. The plan will give us direction on where to go with the choices we have been given by the province. Personally, I am most exited by the options given by the memorandum of understanding announced at the last council meeting. This gives us the opportunity to choose a number of smaller parcels of crown land for residential housing within the municipal boundaries. We would then remain more within our existing footprint.

Once we properly finish these jobs, we can look to the land bank itself. The financial tools will help us with funding the initiatives we decide to undertake. The sustainability plan will give us direction with where to go with housing.

What must be made an immediate priority are the "non cost housing initiatives" as outlined in the staff report at the last council meeting. This option is much more in keeping with the concept of infill as a solution to our housing needs. I will ensure that all the options are thoroughly explained to the community. I will ensure that community input is embraced not ignored. I will ensure that these initiatives are expedited without any more unnecessary studies or consultants.

MITCH RHODES: Underlying every opportunity are challenges. I believe Whistler’s primary opportunity/challenge is keeping the resort a vibrant place to visit, work and live. The three opportunities outlined by Mayor O’Reilly are complex, inherently connected and are laden with challenges. I will deal with each of them in turn.

Financial Tools:

Changes to the Provincial Government’s Community Charter legislation will give B.C. communities the opportunity to raise funds from non-traditional sources such as road tolls, hotel room tax, fuel tax, local entertainment tax, resort tax, parking stall tax, and user fee taxes. In Whistler we call these opportunities financial tools.

Recalculating the school tax formula, negotiating a higher portion of the hotel tax from the province and exploring public/private partnerships are sometimes presented as financial tools, but they are not. Such matters can be undertaken with existing legislation and Whistler should be pursuing these opportunities with vigor. As a councillor I would insist upon it and believe the community would benefit from my financial expertise and participation in such issues.