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September 20, 2018, 12:01 pm

Whistler Council Endorses Home Heating System Repair and Maintenance Funding

Resort Municipality of Whistler
WHISTLER -  In a closed meeting on September 18, Whistler Council endorsed moving forward with the transfer of $870,000 to Whistler2020 Development Corporation (WDC) for funding of repairs and maintenance of the home heating systems in the 174 homes constructed by WDC.

This funding addresses resident concerns about repairs and ongoing maintenance. It will also mark the conclusion of the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s (RMOW) and WDC’s involvement with the home heating systems.

“I am pleased to move ahead with this solution that gives homeowners further opportunity to address the operation of their individual home-heating systems so they can have reliable and affordable heat,” said Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

“The RMOW appreciates the challenges many residents have faced in regards to their home heating systems and has dedicated significant efforts over the past several years to working to resolve these challenges. With the creation of this fund, RMOW and WDC have concluded efforts on DES and no further actions will be taken. Total costs of these initiatives have been $1,220,000.”

Fund details
As a condition of this funding being provided, Whistler Council has required that the funds will be administered under guidelines that will be developed by each strata corporation with assistance from property management companies and RMOW staff. The funding will be divided proportional to the number of units in each strata as follows:
 
  • The Heights $135,000
  • The Rise $300,000
  • Riverbend $100,000
  • The Terrace $135,000
  • Whitewater $200,000

To receive the money, each strata corporation will need to bring forward fund administration guidelines as well as a release from each homeowner in their strata that indemnifies the WDC and the RMOW from future liability with respect to the home heating systems. The required strata guidelines for funding would include, among other things, how the funds will be prioritized, a maximum amount per property, annual reporting on expenditures, and assurances that work will be carried out by qualified professionals. Whistler taxpayers are not impacted by the program funding, which will be administered through WDC.

Final step in multi-year process
Setting aside these funds builds on significant work already taken in response to homeowner concerns about their home heating systems.

Even though no systematic failures have been found in relation to the DES home heating systems, the RMOW and WDC have rolled out several initiatives over the past three years, including:
 
  • Compiling and delivering a Homeowner Quick Reference Guide and a Technical Service Guide to help homeowners properly maintain their DES units.
  • Retaining an independent expert to review the operations of homeowners’ DES units and better understand their experiences.
  • Focusing on challenges encountered in individual homes and working with the Volunteer Cheakamus Crossing DES Committee.

In October 2017, owners of the 174 townhomes constructed by WDC were also given the option to disconnect from the DES if they were dissatisfied with the operation of their home-heating systems. To date none of the owners have opted out.

Over the past three years the WDC has contributed $350,000 in funding towards these previous measures directed at resolving challenges with individual home heating systems in the WDC constructed homes. Together with the new funds provided to WDC, the amount of money contributed towards the matter will total $1.22 million, which averages $7000 per home.

Next Steps
The next step will be for the RMOW to organize meetings with each of the strata councils and finalize the process for transferring funds and the criteria for home owners to access these funds. Details of the program will be communicated to homeowners through their Strata Council, the quarterly DES billing package in Fall 2018 and posted on the WDC and RMOW websites.

About the District Energy System
The District Energy System extracts heat energy from treated wastewater at the Waste Water Treatment Plant to provide space and domestic hot water heating to the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood.

The District Energy System (DES) was constructed for Cheakamus Crossing when the neighbourhood was built for the 2010 Winter Games as the Whistler Athletes’ Village. Ninety per cent of the homes in the neighbourhood are restricted to the Whistler workforce through the Whistler Housing Authority. There are 174 homes developed by WDC connected to the DES through individually owned and operated heating systems. The DES provides homes with, water that is pre-heated from treated wastewater effluent. The RMOW operates and maintains the DES plant located at the Whistler Wastewater Treatment Plant, as well as piping in public areas.

An energy study conducted on the efficiency of the DES concluded it reduced greenhouse gases for the neighbourhood by 95 per cent as opposed to individual homes heated by natural gas.

Learn more at whistler.ca/DES.

About the Resort Municipality of Whistler
The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is a destination resort community, local government organization and leader in providing municipal programs, services, progressive planning and infrastructure for almost 12,000 residents and three million annual visitors. Situated in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Whistler was the Host Mountain Resort for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Our vision: to be the premier mountain resort community as we move towards sustainability. How we’re doing: whistler.ca/monitoring

Media Inquiries
Resort Municipality of Whistler Communications | 604-967-3030 | communications@whistler.ca
Website           www.whistler.ca
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Twitter             @RMWhistler
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