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Rainbow will not appear, staff to give update

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Rainbow’s developers will not be giving council, and the community, a verbal update of their housing project at a public meeting.

Instead, municipal staff will update council at the Dec. 17 meeting.

Mayor Ken Melamed said he would rather have a presentation from developers than read last week’s letter to the editors in both papers, which offered some insight into the project.

The development was given fourth reading in June. Work was expected to commence again on site at that time but little has happened there to date. In the recent letter to the editor, Ann and Francis Chiasson, two of the partners in the project, explained that work has continued “behind the scenes” with the engineering design, securing construction financing and developing the housing agreements.

The development was expected to deliver the first phase of employee housing by summer 2008.

 

2010 update comes to council

 

There could be an “eco-cluster” of national houses between day skier lot three and four as part of the 2010 Games.

That information was included as part of a 2010 Winter Games update to council Monday night by the municipality’s Games Office.

Several nations have already expressed an interest in having a presence in Whistler during the Games, much like Canada had at the widely successful Canada-British Columbia House in the heart of Torino during the 2006 Games.

The international neighbourhood would be the setting for broadcasting, a venue for expositions and a place to celebrate a nation’s Olympic and Paralympic participation. The nations will each be responsible for the construction and servicing of the homes but the municipality will provide guidelines to showcase sustainable design.

“These houses would be adapted post-Games,” explained Sharon Fugman of the Games office.

The forested area between day lots three and four is the old home of the animal shelter and towing yard.

Councillors also raised questions about the transportation planning for the Games. Those details are expected to be released in the new year.

The ministry of transportation has hired an engineering firm to prepare detailed engineering plans for the highway upgrades north of Function Junction. Among other things those upgrades include a 1.5 metre commuter bike lane on each side of the road.

Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden also commented on the budgetary implications of the 2010 initiatives, which were not included in the report.

 

Tourism Whistler update is a mixed review

 

Tourism Whistler President Barrett Fisher gave council a little insight into the municipality’s $1 million investment in the organization in 2007.

Just over half of that money was directed into marketing and sales and the remainder went to capital.

“We appreciate very much the funding,” she told council.

And while the pace of bookings is looking promising this year, Fisher said Whistler is not out of the woods yet with factors such as the exchange rate for the U.S. currency, border crossing back ups, passport legislation and the labour/housing issue impacting business.

On the flip side there are several good opportunities in the pipeline, such as the Peak to Peak gondola, the 2010 Olympics, the snow, and the Whistler Mountaineer.

“I don’t want to give the impression that everything is blue sky and rosy,” said Fisher.

While the resort is seeing a comeback of sorts, year-round accommodation occupancy is at 54 per cent, a figure that is not sustainable, she said.

Councillor Ralph Forsyth asked if there was anything specifically council could do to help Tourism Whistler.

Fisher responded that the municipality could play a role in two issues — housing and the front desk issue.

The first is a tourism problem because if the resort gets busier and there are not enough employees due to a lack of housing, service levels are going to drop, which is not good for business.

And the front desk issue, which relates to a tax loophole allowing condo complexes to remove their front desk and avoid paying higher taxes, also negatively impacts guests’ experience.

Council has been lobbying Victoria to rectify this issue for years.

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