The Audain Art Museum is almost through all the municipal red tape required to get the $30 million building off the ground, with just the ground lease for the land left to finalize.
"We still have to agree on a ground lease but that is well in hand and the anticipation is that it will be coming to council shortly for approval," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden on Tuesday, after council adopted the zoning bylaws and approved the development permit for the museum.
Those approvals clear the way for the recently expanded museum — an increase of more than 16,000 square feet for a total size of 55,000 sq.ft. It also removes any limitations on retail sales in the gift shop, allowing for the sale of art.
The lease is the last issue before work is set to begin on site.
The municipality will continue to own the property on Blackcomb Way, across from Millennium Place. It will be leased to the Audain Art Museum for $1 per year for 99 years.
"There (are) other stipulations with respect to operations and so on," said the mayor of the ground lease discussions.
When asked if there had been any disagreements over the lease she said:
"There's been discussions but the discussions have been very fruitful, very positive."
Bunbury lands rezoning back
A new proposal is back on the drawing board for the Bunbury lands on Whistler Mountain.
The owner, Alex Bunbury, has put forward a plan to municipal hall to legitimize the three homes on his land and create two more market lots.
The proposal also includes 2.7 hectares of park dedication.
To build the market lots, Bunbury has negotiated a deal with Whistler Blackcomb for 12 bed units from its inventory to be transferred to him in exchange for ski in/ski out access across the property.
That means that the two new market lots will not generate new bed units but will require council's approval to transfer them from the mountain.
Council gave its approval to move ahead with the new proposal. Staff will now repeal the earlier rezoning bylaws, which are at third reading and begin a new zoning amendment bylaw,which will trigger another public hearing.
Fire Chief retiring
After more than a decade in Whistler, Fire Chief Rob Whitton has announced he will be retiring in six months.
The chief, who joined Whistler Fire Rescue Service in 2002, was promoted to its head in 2007.
"I wish to thank him for keeping Whistler safe and for all of his hard work over the years," said Wilhelm-Morden during her mayor's report Tuesday night.
Chief Whitton is set to retire in January 2014.
Mayor visiting Whistler's sister city
It was three times a charm for Susumu Fujimaki, mayor of Karuizawa.
That's how many times it took him before the Mayor of Whistler agreed to come and visit its Sister City.
Wilhelm-Morden explained during her Mayor's Report that she told Mayor Fujimaki, who was visiting Whistler in Thanksgiving, that a trip to Karuizawa was not in council's travel budget.
He renewed the invitation at Christmas in a handwritten note and she again declined.
His last renewal came in the spring with an offer to pay for the mayor, her husband and a staff member's travel expenses.
Wilhelm-Morden will be traveling to Karuizawa in early August with her husband Ted Morden.
"I'm very much looking forward to the visit," she said.
Whistler and Karuizawa have a long history; they have been Sister Cities since 1999. This year marks the 90th anniversary of Karuizawa.