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Because the WCSS will be on the hook if the Re-Build-It-Centre turns out not to be profitable, van Straaten stressed this week that location is imperative.
“Unfortunately, it is reality of the times, the municipality doesn’t have a lot of available cash sitting around that they can help fund projects,” she said.
“We do realize that we have to be fairly self sufficient to get it up and running. As such, if it does fail, we are on the hook for it, and it will be all our money that was used to build the business that would be going down the drain.”
A virtual version of the Re-Build-It-Centre was launched earlier this year at www.mywcss.org/Re-Build-ItCatalogue.htm, but so far has not been successful.
van Straaten said while the virtual centre has received “nice” donations, no one has yet purchased any of the products off the site. She said this is likely because the on-line version of the store is a new concept, and the site will need time to be profitable.
If the Re-Build-It-Centre is successful, however, van Straaten said it could double the WCSS’s services in the community and would remove the need for the society to seek funding from local and provincial government sources.
“I am very hopefully that we can continue to move this project ahead. I believe it is a win-win for both us and the municipality, and all the residents in Whistler,” she said, adding that once funding is secured, the centre could be built within a year.
The WCSS operates more than 25 community service programs, many with funds generated by the Re-Use-It Centre, including the food bank, community kitchens, emergency assistance, youth outreach and Whistler Welcome Week.
A rough business plan for the Re-Build-it-Centre — drafted in March by WCSS without knowing where the centre will go — suggest the building will cost between $150,000 and $450,000.
Meanwhile, on Monday night council debated whether the RMOW could eventually help finance the construction project.
Zeidler tried to put forward an amendment to municipal staff’s recommendation that specified that WCSS would pay 100 per cent of the capital building costs rather than “leaving it open ended and giving them the false impression that we might be kicking in money for this.”
Three councillors and the mayor knocked down the amendment, however.
“This is a team effort,” said Councillor Tim Wake.
“WCSS is doing this basically on our behalf based on a suggestion from the Whistler 2020 task force. I just don’t want to put that kind of amendment in there because at some point, as we work through the process together, it may be appropriate for the municipality to support it in that way. At the same time, I think it is clear that the intention is that there is going to be no RMOW dollars.”