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Red tape cleared for Audain Art Museum

Construction on 56,000 square foot art Museum and exhibition space to begin within months

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Construction can now begin on the multi-million dollar Audain Art Museum.

With a fast-tracked approvals process at municipal hall, this week marked the final hurdle in the last six months of passing development permits and bylaws by obtaining an official ground lease.

Council authorized the 199-year lease for the lands in between the day lots at Tuesday's council meeting. The rent is $100 over that 199-year term.

"This has been a very intense, complicated but cooperative effort with both sides," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, referring to the fast-tracked approvals.

Among the conditions of the ground lease, the municipality agreed to move the Village Shop operations to a new site, which it has done, and consider a 10-year permissive tax exemption.

It will also manage the closure of the day lot connector road in between Lots 3 and 4 during the non-ski season period.

The Audain Art Museum, on the other hand, is responsible for the construction and ongoing facility operation and maintenance costs. It must stay open "throughout the year" unless required to close for things like repairs and renovations, but it cannot close due to capital or operational funding shortfalls.

Any revenues from the museum must first go to operating costs and the museum must provide audited financial statements to the municipality.

"I think you've gone into great detail to protect the interests of the Whistler taxpayer," said Councillor John Grills to Jan Jansen, general manager of resort experience.

Construction is expected to begin in September, opening in summer 2015.

RMOW quarterly financials released

The municipality collected $1.6 million in Additional Hotel Room Tax in its first quarter in 2013 — up $120,000 over the same period last year.

That information was included in a presentation to council on the Quarterly Financial Report for the quarter ending March 31. Council spearheaded the reporting initiative to provide more insight into operational spending at the hall.

"Overall I feel that we're tracking somewhat where we'd expect to be at end of the first quarter," said Ken Roggeman, acting general manager of corporate and community services. At the end of the first quarter most divisional operating costs at the hall were tracking slightly less than 25 per cent.

"I'm really, really happy to see these quarterly reports," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

When Roggeman was asked if he's getting a lot of feedback on the quarterlies, he said "No."

The mayor said she's received a few comments: "People are aware that they're out there and they are reading them."

Councillor Roger McCarthy expressed concern about seeing the first quarter report in mid-July.

Roggeman agreed and said the aim was to produce the report eight weeks after the quarter. The next report is expected in September.

Council clears way for new pub

The owners of a new Whistler pub have been given a two-month head start on their project in the Delta Whistler Village Suites.

Council, at the request of Brickworks Hospitality Group, has opted out of providing comments and recommendations to the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB), shaving two months off the approvals process.

Brickworks has submitted an application for a liquor license at the site of the old Milestone's and then later the Elephant and Castle. It would have a licensed capacity of 75 persons.

The site, explained municipal planner Frank Savage, has long held a liquor license and the owners of the hotel are supportive of the new Brickworks Pub. "It is very unlikely that the proposed establishment would be a problem for the community," said Savage.

The owners are hoping to be operational by Christmas 2013.

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