The municipality has paid off MY Millennium Place’s $3.2 million mortgage, even though the Whistler Interfaith Society still owns the building.
According to Lisa Landry, general manager of economic viability, the North Shore Credit Union planned to take the municipality to court if they didn’t receive the money by Dec. 17.
“We had no choice,” said Landry, adding that the municipality had guaranteed the loan for the interfaith society since 2002.
Now that $3.2 million of taxpayers’ money has been spent, the municipality and the interfaith society are back at the negotiation table.
The municipality wants to take possession of the building — where performances, daycare, council meetings and spiritual services take place — as soon as possible. But the interfaith society has stalled the ownership transfer because they might be able to raise enough money, soon, to keep the building in their name.
Last month, a private donor pledged $2 million if the Whistler Interfaith Society can secure the other $1.2 million.
“We have quite a bit of committed funds to retire the mortgage, and we are just trying to finalize some more funds to finish that off,” said Jason Kawaguchi, president of the interfaith society.
“At this point in time, we feel like the mortgage is going to be retired, but we just need to deal with a little bit more time.”
Municipal staff will ask council for direction at the next scheduled meeting, on Tuesday, Jan.13, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
“Over and over again in the correspondence, we have said that if we are forced to pay the North Shore Credit Union, we need to have something to show for that expenditure,” said Landry.
“That was made abundantly clear in the discussions and the documentation back and forth with the interfaith society.”
She added that foreclosure is an option.
The Whistler Interfaith Society built Millennium Place in 2001, but was not able to cover construction costs. The next year, the municipality stepped in to guarantee a loan.
In 2007, a plan to transfer ownership to the Resort Municipality of Whistler was conceived.
Ted Milner, who served as acting mayor this week, said he believes so far the municipality has been fair.
“I think it is certainly Lisa Landry’s intention — and it would be mine too, and I am sure council’s — that we want to be as fair and square as we can, but we also would like to tie this down,” Milner said.