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Municipality putting money aside for affordability strategy


The Resort Municipality of Whistler is anticipating $44 million in revenue for 2001 and some of that money will be spent on efforts to keep the resort affordable for long-term residents.

The municipality’s Lisa Landry said funds are being set aside in the next two years for the development of an affordability strategy, with a goal of implementing it in 2002.

"We are also going to look into the feasibility of possibly providing a supplementary municipal homeowner grant," said Landry.

As well, the RMOW is considering fast-tracking affordable housing projects with the development of a planning team dedicated to processing employee housing applications.

These are some of the shorter-term goals contained in the municipality’s five-year financial plan, which goes to council Monday, Dec. 18.

A public open house has also been scheduled for Dec. 18, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., where RMOW staff will be on hand to explain the plan and to answer questions.

Other major initiatives for the next two years include forming a rail task force to support the Ministry of Highways’ multi-modal transportation study. The study, which was recently made public, looks at increasing passenger rail use as one of the possible long-term transportation solutions for the Sea to Sky corridor.

There are also plans to finalize Whistler’s Environmental Strategy. "The Natural Step will be incorporated into that strategy and launched to the entire resort by the end of the first quarter in 2001," said Landry.

The village enhancement strategy will also be wrapped up within the next two years.

The municipality has dedicated funds to the preparation of a regional growth strategy but, said Landry, Whistler will take its cue from the SLRD on this one. Squamish, for example, has to date been opposed to the creation of a regional growth plan. SLRD board consensus will be needed before any work on a strategy will proceed.

Landry said the next two years will also see cash spent on community consultation and monitoring for the 2010 Winter Olympic Bid. The RMOW will be participating in a number of committees as the bid proceeds.

The new library and museum design plans will be finalized within the next two years and the RMOW will be increasing its emphasis on information technology.

Funds have also been earmarked for what is referred to as a "multi-layered sponsorship program" that will help generate revenue for the municipality in the long run. Landry said the RMOW has retained consultants IEG to conduct an evaluation of sponsorship possibilities. "We hope to work on implementing some of their suggestions in the report they give us in the coming year," noted Landry.

The anticipated $44 million in revenue comes with a tax increase of 3.8 per cent – 2.8 per cent for inflation and another one per cent for policing costs. The average increase in property assessment values this year was 10 per cent.

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