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Employee housing tied to one formula

Appreciation on houses will be two to three per cent from now on

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Whistler’s employee housing projects will not be making big gains in the marketplace any longer.

Council decided Monday night that all projects, both those built and those in the pipeline, will now be tied to the same modest appreciation formula, rising according to the Core Consumer Price Index, roughly two to three per cent each year.

The new formula will apply once existing units have been sold to new homeowners and will apply immediately on all future projects.

"The reason we’re doing it is to try to ensure the future affordability of the entire inventory and create a consistency across the inventory," explained WHA General Manager Marla Zucht, who presented the recommendation to council.

Employee housing projects are tied to different appreciation formulas.

One of the biggest discrepancies in the price-restricted market are those units tied to the Greater Vancouver Housing Price Index, such as the units at 19 Mile Creek, the Beaver Flats duplexes and the Bear Ridge development.

In 19 Mile Creek, for example, the units have seen a cumulative appreciation of 51 per cent from 2002 to 2005.

"It’s really shot up because the Vancouver housing market has been so hot," said Zucht.

She recognizes, however, that some homeowners may perceive the change as unfair.

Because the formula will apply to future resale, it could create a situation where two units in a development are selling at different prices. The point is that the price-restricted employee housing is supposed to be affordable to Whistler employees.

"For people that are on the waitlist looking to buy it will benefit them because down the road… they’ll have the opportunity to buy the units at a more affordable rate," said Zucht.

The WHA is also cracking down on homeowners renting their homes to employees after moving away from Whistler.

Under the new housing terms an owner must not rent their unit for more than one year cumulatively.

This move, said Zucht, is to ensure the housing goes back to the people on the waitlist for the next family/individual to buy. There are roughly 500 separate names on that list.

The Whistler Housing Authority is looking for community feedback. E-mail linda@whistlerhousing.ca

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