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Rainbow gets green light, for now

‘The project will not get a free ride from here on out,’ warns mayor

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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 Development.

“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 Lorriman.

“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,” he said.

Most councillors at the meeting acknowledge that a resolution needed to be passed because it was the “11 th hour” and any hold ups could further jeopardize the project. Only two councillors voted against the revised agreement: Ralph Forsyth and Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.  

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.

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