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Whistler: A time for action, of some kind

Even without the input of the voters, this next election will bring a big shake up at municipal hall.

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Similarly, council pledged to resolve the Class 1/Class 6 taxation issue, which sees some condo properties in Whistler taxed at the commercial rate – more than three times as much as similar properties classified as residential.

Many condo owners are being taxed disproportionately higher than residents. And while they make money from their condo rentals, the second homeowner still isn’t using the services in the resort as much as the residents who live here. They feel they are seen as a bottomless pit.

"It just doesn’t make sense to tack a property tax onto those non-resident homeowners that has us paying quite a disproportionate share to the amount of services that we’re getting," said Seattle resident and Whistler homeowner Gary Gardner.

This is an issue near and dear to Gardner’s heart. He has been instrumental in creating the Whistler Strata Owners Association as a way to lobby for a resolution to this issue and give second homeowners a common voice.

"People are bloody sick and tired of the Class 1-Class 6 issue," he said. "You sat around waiting three years for action and didn’t get it.

"I think there is a perception up there that the entire municipality operates under this notion that we can spend our way out of anything because we have this great ability to tax property owners that don’t live here," said Gardner.

He uses the $10 million library project as an example of this excessive spending.

The newly formed association has invited the mayoral candidates to listen to their concerns. They are also encouraging the non-resident homeowner to vote in the upcoming election as a way of expressing their concerns.

The demand to resolve these issues and more is just going to keep increasing over the next three years. That’s a concern for parent Cathy Jewett who sees the potential for social issues to fall by the wayside as council struggles to deal with an already taxing workload.

She points to a recent council meeting where Councillor Marianne Wade was calling for the council to schedule more meetings this fall in order to push through a project that would deliver employee housing before the election.

"If that’s what it takes for the housing to move forward, what’s it going to take with an agenda that’s got all the regular stuff, the employee housing issue still to solve as well as all the issues surrounding the development of the Olympics?" said Jewett.

In particular she is worried about the lack of programs for children in the pre-teen to mid-teen age group. Hanging out at the village after school, she said, is not where these kids should be.