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Structural engineer chosen for athletes village board

The municipality has chosen a young structural engineer to round out the nine-member board of the Athlete Village Development Corporation.



Melissa McKay didn’t think she had a chance when she applied for the position and so she was very excited to hear on Tuesday morning that she had been chosen for the job.

"I’ve been in the construction industry here for about 10 years and I just wanted to contribute further to the development of the town," she said. "I thought that this would be a really great way to do it because the athletes village will be a very prominent legacy."

Whistler’s athletes village will be nestled on about 70 acres of land across the highway from Function Junction on the south side of Whistler. After the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2010 the village will be transformed into a residential neighbourhood.

McKay, who is 34 years old, said the new neighbourhood could be a place where people like her could live after 2010.

"I think I may be one of the younger people sitting on the board so I could actually be one of the people that ends up living in it when it’s done," she said. "I have a good vested interest in making sure that it suits the community’s needs."

The president of the board is Jim Moodie of Moodie Consultants. Eric Martin of Bosa Development is vice president.

Two members from the Whistler Housing Authority, Duane Jackson and Steve Bayly are also on the board, along with Councillors Marianne Wade and Ken Melamed. Municipal Administrator Jim Godfrey will have a spot, along with the Vancouver Organizing Committee, as ex officio.

McKay will bring her expertise as a structural engineer to areas such as snow management by ensuring that the buildings are safe for the public and that they are protected and preserved.

"It’s a volunteer position but I think it’ll pay itself back in spades with the experience it’ll give me to be a better engineer in the valley," she said.

The board’s first meeting will take place on Thursday, Dec. 30.

Tapley’s Farm concerned about employee housing

The municipality will not be proceeding with new employee housing projects on small road ends without a thorough due process, council reassured the public this week.

The assurances were made at Monday’s meeting after receiving a letter from some residents in Tapley’s Farm who were anxious about potential development of road ends in their area.

"It’s not our intent to do this at any cost," assured Mayor Hugh O’Reilly, trying to quell any fears that the municipality would railroad projects into small road end sites.

He added that any employee housing units built on small road ends around the municipality would go through the proper rezoning steps, including an open house and a public hearing, if they even proceeded that far.

The residents’ letter, which was signed by more than 16 families in Tapley’s Farm, highlighted a number of concerns about putting employee housing in their neighbourhood, such as the decreased market value and damage to the adjacent properties and the removal of mature growth and green space.

"With mounting political pressure to provide affordable housing, it is our fear that the road ends… will be developed without proper due process and that consideration will not be given to the potential negative impacts to the neighbourhood and adjacent properties."

The municipality began looking at several road end sites around Whistler as a quick-fix way to either build small projects or leverage the land for money to be used toward bigger employee housing projects.

No sites have come forward yet as possible employee housing locations.

Millar Creek building to expand

Council has approved a development permit that will see the Millar Creek Café/Lordco Auto Parts building in Function Junction increase in size and get a facelift.

The building will increase in size from almost 15,000 square feet to roughly 26,000 square feet.

In addition to the expansion, work will be done to upgrade the Millar Creek Café patio and traffic calming measures will be installed at the busy corner of Alpha Lake Road.

The developer will also pay almost $24,000 to the employee generation fund instead of providing employee housing, as he is entitled to do under municipal bylaws.

Staff explained to council that the tenants in the building were not in favour of employee housing in the commercial/retail building.

Councillor Ken Melamed was the only member of council to oppose the development permit, because of the lack of employee housing. As he has explained in the past, the employee generation formula ($5,908 per employee generated) isn’t high enough to build a housing unit for that employee and the formula needs to be reviewed.

"We haven’t been able to keep pace with the generation of employees," he added.

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