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Affordability big challenge for Whistler



Price increases feared as Whistler prepares for 2010

Now that the excitement over the winning the 2010 Winter Olympic Games is fading many are turning their minds to how this is going to affect affordability in Whistler.

Both residential and commercial renters are worried they may be evicted or face hefty increases in rent as some look to cash in on the Games.

"I am concerned because there area few landlords out there who honestly believe the opportunity is there to basically just pillage any tenants that they have," said Chris Quinlan, who owns the Behind the Grind coffee house in Whistler village.

"The Olympics is probably the biggest opportunity for everyone to push their financial self-sufficiency up… that we are going to see for a long time.

"But it is not going to happen if (commercial) landlords decide that they want to do it on the backs of small business."

Quinlan, who is thrilled the Games are coming to town, believes education is the best way to protect everybody’s interests.

"I believe the business community will get together and continue to discuss this and that education will be the best way to help everyone be successful," he said.

Jonathan Lazar of Larco Investments Ltd., which manages several village properties, said hosting the Olympic Games is unlikely to lead to evictions.

"I can’t see us steadfastly refusing tenants because of the Olympics, he said.


He said the company always strives to get the best mix of businesses in the properties it manages and that will true for the Olympics as well.

"We anticipate that the Olympics will strengthen the market," he added.

It’s an issue at the top of the list for Whistler Mayor High O’Reilly.

He’s just returned from Prague where the International Olympic Committee announced July 2 that the resort and Vancouver had won the Games.

"I think this issue is one that is most challenging," said O’Reilly, who played a key role in landing the Games.

One of the reasons it’s a challenge is because there are no real tools at the municipality’s disposal to control what landlords do. But O’Reilly believes education and communication between stakeholders will help keep the issue in check.

"We have said from the get-go that this isn’t about a two week windfall this is about 20 years of success," he said.

"I think those that try and milk it will find it’s short-term gain for long-term pain.

"I think our most important job is to tell the world a great story, be reasonable, price accordingly, deliver the best service and we will all benefit for a very, very long time.