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Demand for Olympic housing ramps up

First Games-related scam also comes to light

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By Clare Ogilvie

George Slade is desperate for a home between Pemberton and Squamish.

In fact he needs hundreds of them.

That’s because the web developer has just launched a site to match Olympic Games-time home renters and Games attendees and he is seriously short of inventory.

“Quite frankly we are anxiously looking for new listings,” he said.

“Even today, three years out, we have far more people looking and demand. Right now we need probably 200 houses to fill the requests today.”

Slade and his two partners launched their Accommodate 2010 site in February (accommodate2010.com). Unlike some of the other sites offering Olympic time accommodation listings people who use this site have to pay for it.

You can pay $95.95 to simply list the property or you can pay $149.95 to list the property and get an “assurance audit” from the company, confirming that what is advertised is what is really on offer. Slade also plans to market his site and its contents to a network of 15,000 travel agents starting about 18 months out from the Games.

Most of the clients looking to rent right now are corporate, government or out-of-town media, said Slade.

“Those are the best clients you could get,” he said.

While they may not pay as much as some others they will rent places for longer and likely be more respectful of property. Currently most are offering about $200 a bed per night, depending on the quality of accommodation.

In the months and years to come more and more accommodation networks are likely to spring up. Just how to deal with them is under discussion by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Winter Games, tourism agencies, and by local and city governments.

At the forefront of Whistler’s concerns is making sure that visitors have a positive experience and that they find what they expected when they get here.

Local officials also want to make sure that resort workers are not displaced from rental units so that homeowners can cash in on the Games.

We know there will be increasing demand and we have yet to decide on the best way to manage the demand versus the community interest during the Games,” said Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed, adding that staff are working on a report on the issue.

“One of the things that Whistler council said very clearly to those people who are deliberating on the use of accommodation during the Games is that we need to take steps to secure employee accommodation during the Games before we make a decision on tourist accommodation.”

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