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Phoenix barely alive

Housing board scraps supplier SG Blocks, prepares to proclaim project dead if a solution not found by Frida



It has been a tough week for seasonal housing in Whistler.

One week after the Phoenix Board announced that the temporary housing project was stalled because supplier SG Blocks was short $3 million, the board has now decided to scrap the American supplier entirely from the project.

“It was a really tough decision because we want to hold out hope, but we just felt SG Blocks was not going to be able to pull it off,” said Louise Lundy, director of the Whistler Phoenix Housing Corporation.

“There just comes a point when you have to make a decision and move forward.”

In the meantime, several other modular housing suppliers have come forward to see if they can help string together the Phoenix project, which was intended to house 308 Whistler employees between November 2008 and through the 2010 Olympics.

The Phoenix Board will evaluate all proposals received by Friday, Sept. 5 to see if any look feasible. But if nothing concrete materializes, said Lundy, the project will be proclaimed dead and the Phoenix Board will be disbanded.

“We would not have any surprises, and we would have to have absolute smooth sailing right up to the occupancy date in order to make something work,” explained Lundy.

“We really do not have much time to spend on this. We have already invested all the money we had to pursue options, and the timelines are causing us a lot of challenges. The business community has to come on, and they have to make some decisions about what to do for housing.”

Lundy added that the new supplier would have to have a letter from their banking institution showing financial commitment.

“We don’t want to raise hope, and we don’t want to waste time. We would only be talking with someone who is big enough to be able to carry something like this off and do it quickly.”

With the housing project that was intended to ease Whistler’s accommodation crunch now up in the air, the Phoenix Board has alerted all participating businesses. In an e-mail sent Tuesday night, the board stated that all businesses will receive a full refund of their deposits if the project is canceled.

Chris Quinlan, owner of coffee shop Behind the Grind, called the latest update on the Phoenix housing situation “unfortunate.”

“It is very disappointing because of all the work that has been done,” said Quinlan, who was signed up for seven beds in the project.

“I have never seen an entire community — from the municipality to the business community — come together to make this thing go, and then to have it come apart like this.”

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