A sigh of relief could almost
be heard from those who attended Thursday’s emergency council meeting when
council voted 5-2 to pass the revised housing agreement for the Rainbow
“This is a major milestone
for council,” commented councillor Gord McKeever after the meeting, as people
slowly filed out of MY Millennium Place into the rainy June evening.
He added that it took a lot of
contemplation for council to come to this conclusion, and he was glad to see
the project move forward.
Bill Hayes, project manager
for Rainbow, also admitted he was relieved by the outcome and was looking
forward to getting back to work so the first homes could be built by August.
Despite the night’s positive
result, discussions were tense throughout the evening.
Many councillors said they
were reluctant to pass the resolution after another emergency council meeting
was held two years ago to pass another so-called imperative piece of
legislation for the project.
“Forgive me if I am
skeptical, but history has taught something here,” said councillor Bob
“We had a special meeting two
years ago when we passed fourth reading (on bylaws to move the project
forward), which we were told was dire and we had to pass so the developer could
built the housing units. And we did. And the developer did not deliver those
housing units for whatever reason.”
Mayor Ken Melamed ended the
meeting with a frank warning to developers.
“This project does not get a
free ride from here on out,” he said.
The mayor also spoke to
characterizations, finger pointing, blame, betrayal and claims of lack of
leadership that have passed between stakeholders this week after the future of
the project became uncertain.
“No one could have pictured
the twists and turns and deviations on what has been an incredibly bumpy road,”
Most councillors at the
meeting acknowledge that a resolution needed to be passed because it was the “11
hour” and any hold ups could further jeopardize the project. Only two
councillors voted against the revised agreement: Ralph Forsyth and Nancy
At issue was the “secondary
purchaser clause” which was added to the housing agreement almost 11 months ago
but only presented to council this month. The clause allows Whistler residents
not on the Whistler Housing Authority (WHA) waitlist to buy a home in Rainbow
if no one on the waitlist wants to buy it.