Opinion » Maxed Out

Where there is sizzle... there can also be fire



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Lest you've forgotten, this is what they said then. "This project needs to move quickly through the process with clear community support.... Therefore OKA Holdings is requesting that Council consider a fast track approvals process for both the rezoning and development permits for the first phase of development, and reasonable expectations with respect to offsite improvements."

Alas, several rather large questions are yet to be answered and there appears to be no hope of ever getting them answered in anything like the detail required to make a rational decision about WIC. But in the absence of detailed information, the proponents of WIC have created an on-line petition anyone who is comfortable making decisions in the dark can sign to support their efforts.

As with any slick sales effort, the proponents are trying to whip up support by selling the sizzle, not the steak, or burger, or horsemeat, whatever this thing is. As with any sizzle, the pitch is attractive. Or is it?

Sizzle #1. WIC won't cost taxpayers of Whistler a cent.

Drawing specious parallels to the Audain Museum, WIC proponents are saying, "Hey, why worry? This isn't going to cost you a penny." Be that as it may, let's consider what it is going to cost us. It's going to cost us our, perhaps imaginary, limits to growth. The site for WIC has virtually no bed units. Yet, their three-phase development plan requires 1,460 beds to become reality. With 1,500 students and 407 jobs, WIC has the potential to not only add bed units, but also boost the population base of Tiny Town by about 20 per cent.

While they may not be asking for money, make no mistake, Whistler has skin in this game. By being asked to blow the lid off our bed cap — insert reverential moment of silence here — and boost our population base, notwithstanding the 1,500 would be a rotating cast of characters, the town becomes a de facto equity partner. To put up that kind of equity based on the skimpy business plan submitted to date, you'd have to believe Blackberry has a rosy future.

Sizzle #2. Jobs, jobs, jobs.

WIC will create 407 "well-paying, year-round jobs." Since WIC seems to have a pretty good handle on the job numbers, perhaps they'd share with us what, exactly those jobs would be. What's the breakdown, guys? I only ask because I don't know a whole lot of people in town with master's degrees and Ph.Ds gathering dust. I'd be interested to know how many of those jobs will require new residents... who require housing... and schools... and other community services that don't cost a cent.