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SLRD members cautioned about accepting gifts

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Local government officials have been warned to be much more cautious about accepting gifts while they hold office at the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.

A report that came before the SLRD monthly board meeting on Monday afternoon informed members that they must report any gift over $250 in a gift disclosure statement. If they receive a number of gifts throughout the year from the same source and those gifts have a total value of $250, they must report that too.

If they do not disclose the gifts, the officials run the risk of losing their office.

The regulations are part of the Community Charter, which came into effect at the beginning of the year with consequences for all local governments.

Whistler’s Mayor Hugh O’Reilly said the Charter was created to give local governments new financial tools. As such, the province built in a series of checks and balances, such as the strict rules on accepting gifts.

And yet when the Charter was released it had all the penalties and no financial tools.

"(It’s) not a standard that the provincial and federal government adhere to themselves," he added.

SRLD Administrator Paul Edgington admitted there was grey area in this part of the Charter.

The Charter states that any gift or personal benefit that is received as part of protocol or as an official’s social obligations does not have to be disclosed. But at the same time it does not define social obligations or protocol.

Furry Creek Master Plan Development underway

The board of the regional district got a heads up about a large development planned for Furry Creek in the coming months.

A delegation from Tanac Development Canada Corp. and ParkLane Homes gave a brief presentation to the board about the development of a master plan for the community at Furry Creek.

Originally more than 900 residential units, both single- and multi-family, were planned for the area along with a golf course, marina and a hotel or resort development.

In the early 1990s Tanac developed 56 units in the waterfront townhouse complex, called Oliver’s Landing.

Financial difficulties forced Tanac, a Japanese company, into receivership and the company sold Oliver’s Landing along with 71 single family residential lots.

Last year Tanac partnered with ParkLane Home in Vancouver to work together on the 600 units that are still to come.

There were few details released about the project at the meeting but developers are planning to meet with the community mid-April for feedback on the development.

Whistler’s Mayor Hugh O’Reilly encouraged the developers to use Smart Growth principles in the development.

"I would hope that... you would push very hard at that," he said.

"The market is ready for it."

As we look to 2010, said O’Reilly, everything we touch should be high performance buildings.

Jennifer O’Donnell, a property owner at Furry Creek, was also at the meeting to express her concerns about the development.

Board Chair Susan Gimse said she would refer her concerns to staff to report back on the development.

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