A new face will head up the
development team of Whistler’s athletes’ village.
Joe Redmond has been headhunted to fill the position of president of the
Whistler Development Corporation as of Feb. 1. He replaces interim Chief
Operating Officer Gary Cowan, who had been in the role of COO for about four
said the timing was right for him to accept the job.
seemed a good thing to do,” he said. “It’s in my backyard and it’s with the
According to the WDC board
chair, Redmond was a good fit to head the team charged with building the $131
“He’s a Whistler resident,”
said Eric Martin. “He’s incredibly well respected in the industry.”
Not only does the WDC need to
build to meet the needs of roughly 2,000 athletes and support staff during the
2010 Games, but also the needs of hundreds of local employees who will buy the
housing after the Games.
Another factor to recommend
Redmond to the job as WDC president was his previous role as vice president of
UBC Properties Trust on the campus of the University of British Columbia.
His work there, heading up an
initiative to develop housing and community services on campus, is very similar
to the work at the athletes’ village but on a much larger scale.
“There are many similarities
between my work at UBC and the project in Whistler,” said Redmond. “Like the RMOW
(Resort Municipality of Whistler), UBC set up a company to develop a community
on the campus. The development was aimed at providing affordable housing for
faculty and staff, but beyond that the community had to be vibrant and
sustainable. Many of the environmental initiatives being developed at the
athletes’ village are similar to the work we did at UBC.”
He recognizes, however, that
there are unique challenges to building the athletes’ village at this
“I think like anything in
British Columbia, particularly in the Lower Mainland and Whistler, the biggest
challenge will be making sure that the project is done on time,” said Redmond.
“We don’t have the luxury like a private developer to say ‘if it’s done three
months later that’s alright.’ So certainly the time constraint is most
important. And secondly is the budgeting of it. And there’s always a fine line
between achieving timelines and going over budget.
“So I think those two things
together, that’s the challenge. The work that’s been done to date is good, it’s
actually very good and they’ve made a lot of headway on the servicing and the
roads, and some of the construction is well underway now. So I think it’s a
matter of keeping up the momentum and getting the right people to do the job
The WDC has recently approved
an updated business plan that is expected to go before council at the second
meeting in February.
Redmond said that the updated
plan is essentially on track, save for a slight budget increase.
“There’s been a slight
increase in the budget but there’s been a slight increase in the amount of
building being done as well, so the budget is offset by the additional
building,” he said.
Redmond has owned a home in
Whistler for the past 25 years and commuted for the last eight years to his job
Before that, he was president
of Intercon Developments, involved in residential and commercial developments
up and down the West Coast from B.C. to California, and later was president of
Hearthstone Retirement Services and International Care Corporation, responsible
for the development of retirement healthcare communities across Canada.
“The athletes’ village is
such an amazing development,” he said. “It isn’t very often that you get to be
involved in building a community. This job provides me the opportunity to
contribute to my community by helping develop much needed housing that is
affordable and sustainable. And, of course, there is the thrill of being
involved in the Olympics as well.”
Gary Cowan will remain in his
consulting capacity with the WDC.