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Nita Lake not ready until 2007

Hydro finally hooked up to site

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By Alison Taylor

Whistler’s newest employee housing homeowners will not be in their homes before Christmas as promised.

Delays in hooking up hydro to the site at Nita Lake have pushed back the occupancy schedule indefinitely.

Even though power was finally hooked up this week, developers could not say when the 44 homeowners would be moving into their homes.

The lack of power and heat at the homes last month meant that all the trades dealing with kitchen cabinetry, floor coverings, painting and wood finishing were let go and now have to be called back. That will be a challenge in early December.

“At this time of the year it’s a challenge because when you lose a trade and they go to another job they aren’t going to come back to you until they’ve finished what they’ve picked up at the next spot,” said David Ehrhardt, with the Nita Lake Lodge Corp.

In a letter sent to the homeowners this week, when there was still no hydro, Ehrhardt said it was unlikely there would be occupancy prior to Jan. 31.

Upon learning the hydro crews were on site Tuesday he said he was hopeful that date would stick.

New homeowner Marlene Siemens said she is frustrated by the delay and would like to know when she can move into her new home.

“It’d be nice to have a more firm date,” she said. “It’s always better to know.”

She counts herself lucky, however, because she still has a place to stay until her new home is ready.

Whistler Housing Authority general manager Marla Zucht recognizes the frustration of the homeowners who are eager to get into their homes. She is not aware, however, of any cases where someone has been left without a place to live indefinitely while they wait for the Nita Lake homes to be finished.

Site superintendent Nick Ranzoni said the delay without power cost them at least four weeks work.

“We lost in excess of a month, for sure, that we haven’t been able to do anything inside the buildings,” he said.

Now he worries about the water pipes. Though they shut off the water to the site, he’s concerned that November’s frigid weather may have frozen and broken some water pipes.

“My main concern was to get power and it’s great that I’ve got it,” said Ranzoni. “Now I can keep going.”

Several factors played a role in the delay in getting power to the site.

Ehrhardt said at the end of September they were made aware that certain Hydro equipment and service materials would not be available until mid-October.

Then at the end of October, when Hydro crews arrived on site, they found some of the work was not up to their standards.

“We can’t hook people up if it’s not done properly because we don’t want any kind of electrical problems with any installation,” said BC Hydro’s community relations manager Arlene Shwetz.

That problem was fixed within days said Ranzoni. But then the factors beyond everyone’s control kicked in.

The freezing, wild weather in November meant hundreds of thousands of Hydro customers were without power for periods of time and crews were busy meeting those demands.

Crews were on site at Nita Lake Tuesday and the power was hooked up on Wednesday. Ranzoni is expecting his trades back at work next week.

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