For the fourth year in a row, Whistler has topped the
“best place to ski and stay in North America” category
in Condé Nast Traveler’s annual readers’ poll.
Photograph by: FABRICE COFFRINI, AFP/Getty Images
B.C.’s Whistler Blackcomb Mountain has earned international acclaim yet again.
For the fourth year in a row, the resort topped the “best place to ski and stay in North America” category in Condé Nast Traveler’s annual readers’ poll. It was also named the best North American resort by Freeskier and Outside magazines and garnered the top spot in National Geographic’s ski runs and lodges category.
“Whistler Blackcomb is honoured to be recognized as an industry leader once again,” said resort president Dave Brownlie in a release. “These rankings reflect the overwhelming dedication from our staff to deliver an incredible mountain resort experience to our guests. The beautiful alpine vistas, the seemingly endless terrain, and our abundant snow are all great physical assets leveraged further by our staff who help create memories for guests again and again.”
Whistler Blackcomb ranked third in the overall category for Transworld Snowboard Magazine and Ski Magazine.
The annual magazine rankings rate resorts on a variety of criteria including terrain, snow quality, lift capabilities, parks and pipes, as well as the quality of its restaurants, lodging, and amenities.
© Copyright (c) The Province
As published in the Vancouver Sun, Saturday, January 10, 2009 Section H, page 1 by Gillian Shaw
…If there’s a silver lining to the cloud, it’s that for those with money in their pockets, now is the perfect time to score a deal on a vacation. And if you have lots of money, that deal could be a new condo.
“If you’re a buyer, I can’t think of a better time,” said Pat Kelly, president of Whistler Real Estate and an almost 30-year resident of the area. “There may be some people who are more interested in looking at an offer than they were a year ago. If you’re patient and you have cash, you are in a very strong position. It might be the best buying opportunity prior to the Olympics.”
Right about now the resort could use a perfect storm – one that combines just-right temperatures with snowfall to cover bare rocks and trees in the upper reaches of the alpine. The past week has seen a dramatic improvement in the snow cover. After snow bypassed the resort during the holidays, a whopping 87 centimetres has dropped on it in recent days.
Even so, Brownlie says the unstable snow pack still has to be dealt with through extensive avalanche control that is now going on at the resort to prevent layers of snow from breaking free.
There have been bright spots, such as the opening of the $50-million-plus Peak 2 Peak gondola connecting Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. It has garnered attention and enthusiasm both on and off the mountain. A BASE jump video has drawn almost 30,000 viewers on YouTube, and the first week of operations alone saw an aerial wedding conducted on the gondola as it hovered over the mountain. Several couples took the heady step of getting engaged on the Peak 2 Peak.
Jeff Hunter and his girlfriend Amy Galiszuski travelled to Whistler all the way from Philadelphia for the grand opening of the lift, and Hunter marked the occasion by asking Galuszuski if she would marry him.
“I got the guys (running the lift) to block off the doors so there was just the two of us in one gondola,” he said. “I waited until we were in the middle. I told her how much I cared about her and I popped the question. She said yes,” he said of his proposal, made 436 metres over Fitzsimmons Creek.
Hunter isn’t worried by the stories about the Excalibur Gondola or the avalanches. The B.C.-raised skier tells all his friends to go to Whistler, which is heading into the final-year countdown to the 2010 Olympics with a lineup of World Cup competitions scheduled this winter as a prelude to the big event.
“I’ve emailed everyone I know who skis, and I’ve told them they’ve got to go and ride the Peak 2 Peak,” he said. “I’m telling them Whistler is a great place to ski.”
Brownlie also remains relentlessly upbeat, pointing to the top ratings the resort consistently gets from ski magazines, and a reputation that draws outdoors enthusiats from around the world.
“There is lots of new snow in the forecast,” he said. “Every year there is something different, and certainly this is no exception.
For the 2009 Property Assessment Roll only, BC Assessment will be providing property owners with the market value of properties as of both July 1, 2007 and July 1, 2008. The lower of these two values will become the 2009 assessed value for most properties.
On November 27, 2008, the provincial government passed the Economic Incentive and Stabilization Statutes Amendment Act (Bill 45), which provides special valuation rules for the purpose of the 2009 tax year only.
This initiative is part of the B.C. Government’s economic strategy to provide stability and predictability to British Columbians in response to the downturn in the real estate market which began mid-2008.BC Assessment will post information updates on this web page to keep the public informed.
BC Assessment will continue its normal practice of reflecting property changes which have occurred since the previous assessment. These include changes such as new construction and development, property classification or use, tax exemption status, additions or demolitions. Assessments for properties with regulated values will continue to be based on rates set for the 2008 assessment roll.
Please refer to www.bcassessment.bc.ca/2009_assessment_roll_info/index.asp for more information about how BC Assessment has produced the 2009 Assessment Roll.
Excerpt taken from the BC Assessment website and included with the 2009 Assessment Statement mailed out to homeowners at the beginning of each year.
By Andrew Mitchell. As published in Pique Newsmagazine January 7, 2009
Province’s decision to freeze property assessments reflects sales volumes, values
While it still remains to be seen what municipal property tax rates will be this year, residents will at least be guaranteed that their share of the tax burden will stay the same or go down compared to last year.
On Monday, homeowners across the province received notice from B.C. Assessment, which determines the approximate value of homes based on sales figures. Because the assessments were made in July, before the economy declined, the province passed special legislation in November that homes be assessed at the lower of July 1, 2008 or July 1, 2007 values.
According to Jason Grant, Area Assessor for Vancouver Sea to Sky Region, assessments stayed the same or dropped for roughly 93 per cent of homes in Whistler, 92 per cent of homes in Pemberton, and 97 per cent of homes in Squamish. Assessments on homes that gained value stayed flat, while homes that lost value were assessed for less.
The remaining percentage, seven per cent in Whistler, saw their assessments go up because the homes were newly built, or underwent major renovations to increase their value.
“The first and most important thing is that the assessment notices contain two values, one for July 2007 and one for July 2008, and depending which one is lower the lower one will be your 2009 assessed value,” said Grant. “We did publish what 2009 values would have been if the special legislation was not enacted, but you will always be assessed by the lower value.”
While municipal governments make the final decision on how much to tax based on budged projections, the assessments can determine your share relative to other residents. For example, if homes in one neighbourhood increase in value while other neighbourhoods see a decline then that will be reflected in taxes.
The July 1, 2007 assessment rolls, which were used to determine property taxes for 2008, were up anywhere from five to 15 per cent in Whistler, the first increase in value in four relatively flat years. The same figures are not available for July 2008 because of the province’s decision to change the assessment process this year.
Pat Kelly, owner of the Whistler Real Estate Company, said the province did the right thing by freezing assessments.
“I can only speak from my personal experience, and that is my property in Pemberton was assessed the same as the year before, as the provincial government outlined,” he said. “The market situation didn’t change in that period of time between assessments, 2007 to 2008, and we’re getting the benefit of a lower assessment than we maybe would have seen in July 2008, when the market was still strong. What will be interesting is to see values when they’re taken again on July 1, 2009, given the economic challenges we’re facing.”
Kelly pointed out that assessments are based on home sales, among other things, and that “price always follows volume.” He says the volume of sales in Whistler is much lower now than the last two years and that he expects to see prices drop slightly in the next year.
“Certainly we can expect to parallel the Vancouver experience right now, and right now the Vancouver Real Estate Board is saying sales are down about 35 per cent over last year,” said Kelly. “However we’re only expecting to see some flattening in prices overall, while Vancouver is predicting a drop (in sale prices) of 15 per cent. Whistler won’t be down nearly as much.
“Did residential prices go down? There’s no indication in the statistics that value changed dramatically — maybe one or two per cent, and in some cases the value has gone up.
“In this case I’d say the provincial government has done a good job insulating property owners from the buoyant market in ’07 or ’08, which was definitely more in Vancouver than here. We didn’t see the same rapid appreciation of values that Vancouver saw, our prices stayed pretty flat, and it was a pretty sustainable market.”
But while sales volume has slowed recently, Kelly says there is some positive news, including the sale of resident-restricted housing at Cheakamus Crossing, Fitzsimmons Walk and Rainbow. And while sales volume may be down, that could change — with mortgage rates and prices coming down, Kelly said, it’s a buyer’s market.
The Resort Municipality of Whistler is currently finalizing its budget, but residents have been warned to expect another property tax increase. Property taxes increased 5.5 per cent in 2008, but that increase was mitigated by a reduction of provincial taxes to less than two per cent. Increased operating costs and the loss of revenues due to the Class 1/6 condo classification are blamed for the increase.
If people have questions about how their homes were assessed or the provincial legislation that essentially froze assessments at July 2007 values, Grant recommends that people visit www.bcassessment.ca.
As well, there are changes to the B.C. Home Owner Grant system, which can now reduce property taxes by up to $570 on homes up to $1,164,000 in value.
The province created a new Property Tax Deferment Program for homeowners facing hardship as a result of the financial crisis, and that have at least 15 per cent equity in their homes. The province will pay property taxes for qualified applicants in the 2009 and 2010 tax years, but the homeowners owe that money and interest back to the province. The taxes do not have to be paid back until the home is sold or ownership is transferred to someone other than a spouse.
Sea to Sky sales, median prices fluctuate in 2007-08
B.C. Assessment figures show that the median price of homes sold in Whistler has fluctuated in the past year, but Grant cautioned that figures have to be taken in context from quarter to quarter. Lower averages in one quarter might reflect the sale of smaller condos or resident restricted housing in one quarter rather than a loss in the value of larger homes, while the sale of a mansion might skew numbers upward. Home values are assessed annually from July to July, and are based on neighbourhood values, sale value, size, lot size, age, location and other factors.
In the past two years the median price of homes in Whistler has ranged from $1,045,000 in the fourth quarter of 2007 to $1,395,000 in the first quarter of 2008.
What is interesting to note is the number of homes sold in Whistler in 2008 is down significantly. In 2007 there were 186 homes sold in Whistler, compared to 100 homes from January to October in 2008, the last month data was available last year. There were 58 homes sold from July to September 2007, compared to 26 in the same period of 2008.
In Squamish, the median price for homes increased from $433,500 in January to March 2007 to a high of $522,500 in April to June 2008. That median dropped to $499,000, as did the number of homes sold. From July to September 2007 there were 80 homes sold, compared to just 35 during the same period in 2008.
The situation was similar in Pemberton, although Grant says its hard to attach significance to the numbers because of the relatively few homes sold. From January to March 2007, the median price of homes was $430,000, increasing to a median of $575,000 from April to June 2008. The median dropped to $535,000 from July to September, while the volume of sales ranged from six homes to 18 homes per quarter.
B.C. property values near $1 trillion
· 1,854,009 properties were valued for the 2009 assessment roll, 33,965 more than the previous year.
· The taxable value of the 2009 roll is $953 billion, an increase of $13 billion or 1.41 per cent over the previous year.
· Roughly 94 per cent of residents in B.C. will be assessed the same or less than the previous year.
· The median sale price for Vancouver and Sea to Sky region ranged from $735,000 in January to March 2007 to a high of $870,000 from April to June 2008. In July to September 2008, which includes the economic crisis, the median price was $783,000.
· Roughly 87.6 per cent of properties are classified as Class 1 residential.
· Less than two per cent of British Columbians request reviews of their assessment to one of 75 Property Assessment Review Panels appointed by the Ministry of Small Business and Revenue.
The deadline for reviews this year is Feb. 2.
Vancouver BC,December 9,2008: The Jamaican Bobsleigh Team is set to arrive at their new North American training base in Pemberton B.C. this weekend.
The team is establishing Pemberton as the Official North American Training Camp of the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team, at the invitation of the town and its residents. The team plans to use the town as its base for its practice and preparations for the upcoming Whistler World Cup in February, as well as other races around the world leading up to their qualifying for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The team will arrive at the Vancouver airport at 3:49 PM on Saturday December 13, 2008 (domestic terminal) and is expected to be greeted by a large group of Jamaica bobsleigh fans and supporters.
The team will then travel to Pemberton where an official welcome is scheduled for 1:30PM on Sunday, December 14, at the Pemberton Community Centre. Later on Sunday, the team will tour the Whistler Sliding Centre from 4:30PM to 5:30PM. The team will be available for media interviews in Pemberton after the community reception or in Whistler prior to the sliding centre tour.
“We are delighted to be hosting the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team here in our beautiful town” said Jordan Sturdy, the Mayor of Pemberton. “We are all great fans of their story and legacy, and especially admire their great competitive spirit. We are confident that Pemberton’s ideal location near all the worldclass facilities that they need to prepare for the World Cup as well as the Olympics will be a contributing factor in the team’s success over the next year.”
The members of the 2009/2010 Jamaican Bobsleigh Team are:
Wayne Thomas, Coach Hannukkah Wallace, Driver Joel Alexander Marvin Dixon Garnett Jones Wayne Blackwood
In addition, Devon Harris, the captain of the original Jamaica bobsleigh team whose story was told in the hit Disney film CoolRunnings, will be at the Vancouver airport as well as in Pemberton over the next few days advising the team.
“We are excited and appreciative at the generous offer made to us by our new friends in Pemberton,” stated Dudley C. Talmage (‘Tal”) Stokes, the president of the Jamaican Bobsleigh Federation. “We are confident that our time in Pemberton will allow us to focus and prepare better than anywhere else in the world for our upcoming events as we go all out for the next Olympics.”
For additional information please contact:
For Jamaican Bobsleigh Federation:
Published: Friday, November 28, 2008
Phones are still ringing at Tourism Whistler’s booking office, offering some hope to a waning Whistler real estate market.
“Our real estate activity does flow from our tourism activity,” Patrick Kelly, an agent at the Whistler Real Estate Co., said in an interview, “particularly where the international — American and European — market is concerned.”
“If they don’t come [to visit], we don’t sell to them.”
At Tourism Whistler, McDonald said operators at the resort are bracing for a slower 2008-09 season compared with the 2007-08 season. Forecasts are for five to 12 per cent fewer visitors than the previous year.
However, they have been marketing aggressively and offering deep discounts to attract early bookings and mitigate those expected visitor reductions, and indications are that some of those efforts are paying off.
He said the United Kingdom tour operators are reporting that their winter sales to all Canadian resorts are down, but they are down the least for Whistler.
McDonald said officials believe that is because of growing awareness of Whistler’s status as co-host of the 2010 Olympics.
Whistler Blackcomb’s new peak-to-peak gondola, which will transport skiers from the top of one mountain to the other and opens Dec. 12, is another amenity the resort hopes will be an advantage in attracting visitors this season.
McGregor said that over recent years, the Whistler real estate market peaked in 2003-04, then dropped considerably in 2005 before picking up again in 2006.
As for the longer term, he said new developments such as the upgrade of the Sea to Sky highway will stand the resort in good stead.
For now though, McGregor said that if sellers “have a valid reason to sell, it’s a solid market, but most definitely a buyers’ market.”
TOP 10 SALES FOR 2008
· 6715 Crabapple Drive $17.5 million
· 4669 Blackcomb Way $6.7 million
· 6669 Crabapple Drive $3.93 million
· 4922 Horstman Lane $3.88 million
· 9101 Summer Lane $3.61 million
· 3441 Heron Place $3.6 million
· 5750 Alta Lake Road $3.38 million
· 1534 Spring Creek Dr. $2.8 million
· 4299 Blackcomb Way $2.8 million
· 4700 Glacier Drive $2.75 million
TOP 10 SALES FOR 2007
· 6717 Crabapple Drive $10 million
· 82-4617 Blackcomb Way $6.8 million
· 81- 4617 Blackcomb Wa $6.5 million
· 7425 Treetop Lane $6.3 million
· 71-4617 Blackcomb Way $5.8 million
· 3586 Falcon Crescent $5.6 million
· 3851 Sunridge Court $5.3 million
· 3805 Sunridge Place $5.25 million
· 5468 Stonebridge Place $4.5 million
· 4937 Horstman Lane $4.4 million
Average prices for detached homes in Whistler:
Year Avg Price
· 2000 $695,654
· 2001 $796,247
· 2002 $1,055,308
· 2003 $1,181,906
· 2004 $1,384,904
· 2005 $1,305,276
· 2006 $1,364,775
· 2007 $1,370,017
· 2008 $1,299,802
Source: Landcor Data Corp.
WHISTLER, BC, July 17, 2008 – A new 20-year management agreement has been implemented between the owners of The Westin Resort & Spa and OHR Whistler Management Ltd., a subsidiary of Vancouver-based O’Neill Hotels & Resorts Ltd. The new agreement has moved away from a revenue-based fee structure to a profit-sharing business plan which closely aligns the interests of the owners and management. The short term impact is expected to boost net income for the owners. The long term impact provides an opportunity for both the owners and OHR to achieve greater long term growth. The resulting increase in value has made owning a unit at this Four Diamond rated hotel that much more enviable.
“We recognized that changes needed to be made, but they had to be ones that truly made a difference for all stakeholders involved,” explained John O’Neill, president of O’Neill Hotels & Resorts Ltd. “We’ve spent many, many months candidly discussing what would work to make owning and/or buying a unit the right investment for all involved, so the changes that have been made to the terms of agreement are not just a collaboration of input between owners and ourselves, but also the franchise division of Westin Hotels.” O’Neill also stated that an investment partnership, of which they are a part, has also recently purchased a substantial number of hotel suites in the Westin, which will further align them with the other owners.
In addition to this new management agreement the interests of all stakeholders will be further enhanced with the planned multi-million hotel refurbishment program for the 8-year old resort hotel, which is to begin in spring 2009. Acknowledging the importance of this new management agreement and the need for the changes to be win-win for all, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, franchise operators of Westin Hotels & Resorts worldwide, will be contributing $1 million to the refurbishment program.
“We’re very pleased with the changes to the terms of the new agreement for current and prospective condo owners at the Westin,” said Colin Yip, president of the Strata Corporation at The Westin Resort & Spa. “For several years the owners have attempted to renegotiate several aspects of the hotel management agreement and it has finally come to fruition. The key to the new deal was changing the contract from a gross revenue focus to a shared net income focus which will result in more money in owners’ pockets. With the winter Olympic games just under two years away, the opportunities of a better bottom line can be more optimistically realized with these welcomed changes.”
Opened April 3, 2000 and twice-named the #1 ski resort hotel in North America by Condé Nast Traveler, The Westin Resort & Spa has just recently been awarded the Four Diamond-designate from AAA/CAA for the eighth consecutive year. As well, the Westin has been given the nod by AWARE with its Whistler Environment Business Award and the Hotel Association of Canada’s Three-Green Key eco-award, which recognizes the numerous green-friendly initiatives in place at the hotel.
For more information contact:
John O’Neill, President, O’Neill Hotels & Resorts Ltd. – 604.633.2850
Colin Yip, President, Strata Corporation – Contact Judy Ursulan – 604.935.4302
|Direct:||604 905 2812|
|Cell:||604 932 1368|
|Fax:||604 932 1279|