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Financial tools, land bank, CDP — the candidates speak


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Two legacies, two opportunities, two potentials to secure the future for RMOW are the land bank for employee housing and new financial tools and I completely agree with Mayor O’Reilly’s assessment. Building in the Callaghan Valley has already stirred the masses who see this as a potential open marketplace once the door is opened. Others feel that the Cheakamus North site, contiguous to existing services, should be the only choice.

My knowledge of the situation is much greater than most because of my previous role on council. And yet, I could not honestly say to you that one site should be chosen over the other. This is simply because from a planning basis, facts and figures have not yet been produced to justify why or where development should conclusively occur. Once this is known, it should be put to the public realm for discussion.

My personal inclination has always been to support the Cheakamus North site. I do not believe in the "down valley" and "up valley" syndrome as a perceived solution. This has never successfully occurred in Vail or Aspen or any other models.

New financial tools, if they are the right ones, can extremely relieve the financial burdens many local residents experience. Most of us resent the truly excessive school tax levied upon our properties by the province. Unless this nut (government) can be cracked, permanent residents will face the continuing uphill struggle simply known as affordability or the lack of it. This is why new financial tools are important to achieve, the simplest form being a resort tax. The trick here, of course, is to tax the visitor, not the resident, in ways that are not oppressive, offensive or so onerous as to discourage one from coming to Whistler. If and once a new resort tax were in place the funds derived should be placed in programs which enhance our resort product and reduce financial burdens on permanent residents.

The Comprehensive Sustainability Plan is essential to provide a road map for our next 20 years. We will have the opportunity to assess the results of potential decisions before they are actually implemented when the plan is completed. And we know how critical this is becoming in a place where growth limits are finite, and established, and where business continually demands to expand. So I absolutely support getting on with the completion of this plan.