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Local contractors owed approximately $4 million for work done on the Taluswood development are surprised and disappointed by Intrawest’s offer to them. "They haven’t tried. I feel it’s a carefully worded threat," said Nigel Woods, a spokesman for about 70 contractors owed money. The contractors met with Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation, which bought the project when it was placed in receivership, and with Intrawest, after that company reached a joint venture agreement with WMSC to complete the Taluswood townhouse development. Although the contractors know the two companies are under no legal obligation to pay them, Woods says there were indications at each meeting that "there was some hope." After several weeks of waiting for an offer from Intrawest, contractors received a letter Oct. 4 from Donal O’Callaghan, vice president of the company’s Resort Development Group. The letter reads: "As you are aware, Intrawest has agreed to participate in the completion of the Taluswood Development as a Joint Venture partner with Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation. "The receivership of Black Tusk Developments has left some of the secured creditors with no payment, leaving lien holders, including subtrades and consultants, in the same situation. As a result lien holders’ rights were extinguished, leaving no obligation on the part of a future owner to accept responsibility for any of these unpaid amounts. We are now the operating partner of a project which went into bankruptcy despite being sold at a very buoyant time in the real estate market. Obviously the financial formula for Taluswood was significantly flawed. We hope to be able to turn things around and put the subsequent phases of Taluswood on a stable financial footing, but this will take all of our efforts and a considerable period of time to prove out. "As we move through the build out of the unfinished units in Phase 1B and 2A, we would like the opportunity to work with yourself and many of the other subtrades and suppliers originally involved in the project. This will allow us to accomplish the work in a reasonable time and provide continuing employment for those who incurred losses with the former owners. Additionally, we would like to consider the original trades at Taluswood to be ‘preferred’ contractors for the balance of the project. Pricing will need to be provided on a competitive basis, but clear priority will be given to those who originally worked on the site. "Many of the affected trades and suppliers are among those who continue to work with Intrawest, Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Skiing Enterprises. We hope to be able to continue these relationships over the long term, providing an ongoing supply of work for talented local tradespeople. "After lengthy consideration of all possible alternatives, this represents our best effort to assist long time members of the community. Both ourselves and Whistler Mountain look forward to your cooperation in the build out of Taluswood and on all our future projects in the Whistler area." Woods says the contractors are "extremely disappointed and, I think you could say, surprised" by Intrawest’s response. "We know they have no legal obligation, but morally... "There’s $4 million of unpaid bills — that’s $4 million worth of goods and services that they’re selling. "There’s the moral ground." Woods says the bankruptcy has been devastating for a lot of local companies, and some have had no choice but to return to work on Taluswood. Amako Construction, which had not been involved in the project prior to the bankruptcy, is now overseeing construction. "I don’t think they’ll have any trouble finishing the project," said Woods, "but I don’t think anyone’s going to forget (how they did) it. "I think it would have been possible to do the right thing, but I don’t think they’ve made any effort." The contractors formed a lien-holders group when the Taluswood project was placed in receivership last year. Woods says the group is still together and the issue is not dead, but where they go from here is not clear.

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