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First tenants moving into Chiyamesh

Building provides first new rental apartments in 10 years



Whistler's first new rental apartment building in 10 years will be opening on Aug. 1 to tenants who have signed one-year leases to live in the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood.

The building was named Chiyamesh after the First Nations word for "people of the fish weir." It includes 40 suites and 15 one-bedroom units. The prices are $775 and $975 per month respectively, which includes heating costs. Like other residences in the neighbourhood, the complex is hooked up to the new heat transfer system at the wastewater treatment plant where heat is captured during the digestion of sewage and used to offset electrical heating of rooms and hot water tanks.

The Whistler Housing Authority (WHA) is administering the units, the first to hit the Whistler market since the Beaver Flats building opened almost a decade ago.

According to WHA general manager Marla Zucht, the WHA obtained the building for cost - roughly $7.2 million - and set the rental rates at a level to cover their $24,000 per month mortgage and break even once all the other building costs were factored in.

Roughly 16 units are rented for the Aug. 1 move-in date, which Zucht says is on par with their expectations.

"We knew opening the building in August would be soft, but we wanted to give it time and have the move-in dates staggered so we're not overwhelmed," she said.

"It also gave us time to get familiar with the building and identify any glitches before we're at full occupancy."

Zucht says they expect the units to be filled by Oct. 1 at the latest. If it takes much longer than that it could be an issue to make payments.

However, the WHA and partners decided early on that the benefits would outweigh the risks.

"From the very beginning (of the athletes' village planning process) it was decided that we would be a partner in the development, which would take away the Whistler 2020 Development Corporation's risk in having to sell additional housing - and it was also recognized that there was a need for additional rental housing units, and it's really hard as a community to get private sector rental units from the private sector."

The WHA will be hosting two additional open houses at the building next week. The first is on Tuesday, Aug. 3 from noon to 1 p.m. The second is on Thursday, Aug. 5 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

You need to be an employee in the resort to rent the units, and fill out at application at the Whistler Housing Authority.