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Nita Lake employee housing still outstanding

RMOW in dialogue with developers, report to come to council



The municipality is working on a solution that would resolve the outstanding employee housing units associated with the Nita Lake Lodge development.

"We've been talking to them," confirmed Mayor Ken Melamed this week, adding that he expects a proposal to come before council in the weeks to come.

The original development approved in 2003 included a 77-room hotel, a train station and some market housing in exchange for several community amenities, chief of which was two sites of employee housing.

The 44-unit townhouse site was built three years ago but the second site, two-acres on Alta Lake Road close to the railway crossing, has yet to be developed.

Attempts to contact the chief financial officer at Property Team Inc. in Red Deer, Alberta were unsuccessful this week.

At one point the original developers were considering a two-building development with 80 small studio units that could be rented to local businesses for employees.

That morphed into a plan to build 22 townhouse-style units.

Neither plan has made it farther than the drawing board.

Two years ago, with the employee housing still outstanding, the municipality approached the developers with what it perceived to be a "win-win" deal.

Rather than build the employee housing on Alta Lake Road, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) would instead take the cash and use it to build employee housing at the athletes' village - the $160 million development it is responsible for delivering before the 2010 Games.

"We asked them to participate in the athletes' village in lieu of providing those two buildings," said the mayor. "We made them an attractive offer and they declined."

The overall Nita Lake development has not been without its share of struggles. When council first approved the bylaw, a nearby neighbour took the RMOW to the Supreme Court claiming the bylaw was illegal, and won. Construction on the project was stopped until the province overturned the Supreme Court's decision.

At the time, developers estimated that the delay and court battle cost them $3 million.

More recently in March, the management of the lodge changed hands as a result of strained relationships with the owners.