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Whistler looks for unique village ideas

Submissions deadline less than two weeks away

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If it had its druthers, what would the community put in the village to add a splash of excitement and vibrancy to Whistler?

The proposed development of lot 1/9, which will bring an ice arena and other buildings to the area bordered by the medical clinic, Marketplace, the BrewHouse and Blackcomb Way, is a chance to add some value to the village experience.

Now the municipality wants to suss out potential demand for space on lot 1/9 as it works to complete a financially sound business plan by early June.

Drew Meredith, chair of the community task force for the development, said they have spoken to several community groups interested in village space, such as the museum, the arts council and the skating club. Now they want to hear from other businesses, who can bring a little flavour and offer something more than fleece and skis.

"In order to do (the business plan) we’ve got to go out and shake the trees," said Meredith.

"What we’re really looking for are the unique opportunities and the add-value… uses."

Those uses have to pay the bills, however, and a key concept of the development is that it’s financially sustainable.

Community space must be balanced with other retail/market space.

"The project can’t all be free," said Meredith. "That’s the interesting balance that we’re going to try and seek – how do we make this project pencil? It’s going to have to be a combination of market and non-market."

The last design, which came before council last week, saw an ice arena big enough to host the sledge hockey events during the 2010 Paralympic Games as well as almost 75,000 square feet of additional building space. That’s almost three times as big as the IGA Marketplace, which is 27,000 square feet. Some of that space will be needed to support the arena.

The municipality has posted a Request For Proposals on its website at www.whistler.ca under business. Click on tenders and RFPs.

"Rather than just reacting to people what we want to do is just test out the market and see what all of the possibilities are and see what ideas come forward," said Senior Planner Mike Kirkegaard.

There is less than two weeks to respond. The deadline is May 24.

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