By Alison Taylor
Whistler’s mayor is cautioning Rainbow’s developers to stick to
their 2009 timeframe in order to protect the municipality’s own housing project
at the athletes’ village.
“We’re not prepared to just keep extending (Rainbow),” he said
this week. “It can’t go past 2009.”
The municipality’s guarantee that the developers will stick to
their tight timelines is through a business deal, which has yet to be approved.
As per the original agreement, the business deal sees the
Whistler Housing Authority backstop the project, meaning it will buy the
single-family lots for $110,000 each if the developer cannot sell them to people
on the WHA waitlist.
“The position we’ve taken is that if they’re not ready by a
fixed date, we won’t purchase those lots,” said the mayor.
And, if the homes aren’t ready according to the schedule, they
won’t go on the marketplace until after the athletes’ village is sold, sometime
following the 2010 Olympics.
“The potential result would be that the developer is going to
have to finance and carry his project for three or four years longer than they
expected. That may make it uneconomical for the developer. We don’t know.
That’s going to be their choice.”
The mayor’s comments Tuesday morning came on the heels of an
update to council on the progress of the Rainbow housing development, which is
supposed to deliver roughly 220 units of employee housing including single
family homes, duplexes and apartments, phased over the next three years.
The project, said Bob MacPherson, the municipality’s general
manager of planning and development, is under tough, aggressive timelines.
Developers have promised to deliver 50 units — a mixture
of single family and duplexes — by Christmas 2007. The remaining units
will be up for sale in 2008 and 2009.
Developer Rod Nadeau reiterated his commitment to that schedule
again this week.
“I’m working really hard to make that happen and so are a lot
of people,” he said. “All the pieces are starting to fall in place in time with
our schedule, which is great.”
Their intention, he said, is to build the houses and sell them
on schedule and never have the WHA buy anything. But council was told Monday
night that there isn’t much “wiggle room” if things go wrong.
There was a pregnant pause in the mayor’s office Tuesday
morning when asked about the potential fallout of not sticking to the schedule
of this much-anticipated project.