News » Whistler

Rainbow deal takes time

Outstanding issues still to be resolved



As much as council wants to see the Rainbow development project breaking ground by the spring, there are still outstanding details to be resolved.

Developers are anticipating the project will move forward at the Jan. 23 rd council meeting, and both sides are working hard to see that happen. But the deal isn’t ready yet.

"In its present form, (the deal) needs work and will take time," said mediator Steve Bayly, who brokered the Rainbow development about a year ago as he worked to find employee housing opportunities for the municipality.

With the employee housing waitlist of 530 applicants growing by the week, time is of the essence in moving this project forward.

The project is expected to deliver more than 300 units of employee housing, ranging from single-family homes to duplexes and multiplexes.

Councillor Tim Wake said there is a strong will from council to see Rainbow succeed but there are still a number of issues yet to be resolved, such as the business deal and who is paying for the off-site servicing costs.

A first draft of the business deal, called the Land Transfer Agreement, which outlines the business terms of the project and the financial details of the employee housing, was dropped off to the municipality on Friday, Jan. 6 late in the afternoon.

Rainbow’s lawyers have drawn up the document.

Bayly said it still needs a lot of work before it will meet the satisfaction of both the municipality and the Whistler Housing Authority.

"It doesn’t reflect the transaction as I see it," said Bayly.

"It’s going to take us some time just to understand this and figure out what we need changed on it."

Rainbow’s developers did not return phone calls before press time Wednesday evening.

The large development, which admittedly is very complex, has been roughly a year in the making.

The municipality and the developers signed a Memorandum of Understanding in early March 2005 outlining their business proposal.

"I think it’s fair to say it’s taking longer than many people would have hoped," said Mayor Ken Melamed.

He wanted to assure residents, however, that the municipality is doing everything it can to move the project along.

"We’re trying to do everything we can to facilitate it but it requires partnership and participation actively on both sides," added the mayor.

"Our belief is that it’s going to come on stream and we’re just working through the final stages. That’s where I believe it is."

Meanwhile the waitlist for employee housing is steadily growing.

This project, however, loses appeal the longer it’s delayed. It was meant to ease the pressure on the WHA waitlist in the foreseeable future, not four or five years down the road. If developers break ground in the spring, the first residents won’t be moving into their homes until the latter half of 2007.

"We need it now, not in a year and if it gets delayed a year or so you start to question whether it’s even needed," said Bayly.

That’s because the athletes village could meet all the housing needs on the list after the Olympic Games in 2010.

Rainbow’s proponents are encouraging residents to come out to the Jan. 23 council meeting to show their support for the project.