Opinion » Editorial

editorial

comment
Solutions to the employee housing problem are not easy and they are not uniform. As has been stated numerous times, there are many types of employee (or affordable) housing required by the many types of employees (or financially challenged workers) who live in this valley. Proposing a solution to the problem is an invitation to criticism. It’s one of those problems that can never be solved to everyone’s satisfaction. That being said, I’d like to offer some constructive criticism of the proposed affordable housing policy. The policy would subject all future employee housing project to resale controls. That’s a marked departure from the present and previous councils’ attitude toward market intervention. It might be argued that non-intervention is precisely why Whistler has such an affordable housing crunch, but it the issue requires a little more examination. In the past, the municipality has used a covenant on employee housing projects which restricts occupancy to Whistler employees. That has served to keep properties — both townhouses and single family houses — below market value. The question is whether they are far enough below market value to still be "affordable." For townhomes, I think the answer is yes. Previous employee townhouse projects have remained below market and generally stayed "affordable" simply with the employee occupancy covenant, even after the second or third sale. Single family "affordable" homes are a different story. The fact is that demand for single family houses is now so high that even though restricted houses are below market value they are still very expensive by almost anyone’s standards. But rather than dictate resale prices, perhaps restricting the size of single family "affordable" homes should be tried. The intention of the affordable housing policy is to keep affordable housing affordable forever, not just affordable for the first owner. But some further research should be done before the municipality gets into restricting resale prices.

Add a comment