Opinion » Editorial


Let me get this straight. In the white-hot real estate market of Whistler, where the average price of a single family home has increased more than $90,000 in the last year; where many businesses have had trouble keeping staff because staff can’t find a place to live; where 1,200 more hotel rooms are going to open next winter; where some people with two jobs have given up on trying to find a place they can afford and bought a tent and a polar sleeping bag and decided to call that home; where one of the fundamental issues of the recent election was affordable housing; council Monday decided to allow two projects — a total of 21 bed units — to move on to the second, more detailed stage of evaluation. Of the eight other proposals received last Nov. 15 when the municipality’s call for affordable housing projects closed, four have been rejected and four — Alpha Creek, Whistler South, 19 Mile Creek and Cheakamus North — will be re-considered after a consultant completes a needs assessment. That report is expected in the next three to four weeks. The rationale for this non-decision, which effectively kills any chance of any of those four projects being built this year, is: a) 767 bed units worth of affordable housing are already going to be built this year and the municipality said it would only allow 700 affordable bed units to be built this year; and b) the consultant’s report should indicate what type of housing is most needed. After more than a decade of talk about affordable housing and after a proposal call has closed, this council wants to study what kind of affordable housing is most needed. On the surface it makes sense to do a needs assessment; if there are only so many bed units left for affordable housing they should go where they are most needed. But trying to rationalize affordable housing decisions based strictly on available bed units is the type of thinking that has exacerbated the affordable housing situation in the first place. Moreover, the consultant is expected to recommend that the municipality make more bed units available for affordable housing. The current allotment — it was 1,700 but it’s about half that now that projects have been re-counted — was based on the employee housing fund. But the Whistler Valley Housing Society wants to use that fund to build rental accommodation. Such a project hasn’t been factored into the equation yet because no one has any idea what the housing society could build with the fund. But trying to follow the bed unit bouncing ball is the wrong approach. There is a need for housing; attempt to meet some of that need and then count the bed units. But those who thought there was a sense of urgency feel betrayed. bed unit gymnastics, process bass ackward