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Housing authority plans roundtable discussions

Policies and formulas to be reviewed

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The WHA is holding a series of four round table discussions next month to review resident housing policies and the new appreciation formula that was put into place in July. The maximum resale price of units, when sold to subsequent purchasers in all price restricted units at 19 Mile Creek, Bear Ridge, Spruce Grove, Nita Lake and other projects will now be indexed to the Core Consumer Price Index, which tracks commodity and cost-of-living expenses to measure inflation.

"The big public forum we held (in July) was specifically targeted to current owners and waitlist applicants to talk about how resident housing could better meet their housing needs," said Zucht, "but with the roundtables we want to have more of a working format where people share their opinions and discuss options on resident housing policies. We’ll be going through a review of all policies and procedures, and taking direct input into that."

The new appreciation formula, which has stirred up controversy among homeowners, will be part of the review, but Zucht says it will only be one part of the discussion. Other topics include waitlist eligibility, the three strikes policy where people can be moved to the bottom of the list, Standard Charge Terms, governance, and stakeholder engagement and communication.

The roundtable sessions are: Wednesday, Sept. 13 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. upstairs at Boston Pizza; Thursday, Sept. 21 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at municipal Hall, Flute Room; Saturday Sept. 30 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Millennium Place Multipurpose Room; and Tuesday, Oct. 3 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Myrtle Philip Community School lounge.

"We want to reinvigorate and build upon Whistler’s successful resident housing program," said Gordon McKeever, chair of the WHA board of directors.

According to the WHA the roundtable discussions are only the first part of a new stakeholder engagement plan being developed by the board to increase community input. Other opportunities include strata meetings, regular e-mail updates to owners, tenants and waitlist applicants and better use of the website at www.whistlerhousing.ca.

Resident-restricted homes not selling despite growing list

Despite the growing number of Whistler workers looking to buy into employee restricted housing – the list was at 536 on Wednesday – some owners are having trouble selling larger units. Last week an ad was placed in the paper to sell a townhouse in 19-Mile Creek – a first since the Whistler Housing Authority was founded in 1997.

According to WHA president Marla Zucht the house was offered to all 38 qualified people on the list, and 10 people came to the last open house. She also said the owners did receive offers on the house below the maximum resale price, which they are considering at this time.

The owners are allowed to sell directly to other Whistler employees who are not currently on the WHA waitlist, but with all current covenants applying including the maximum resale price and the precondition that the buyer can only sell to another local employee who meets WHA criteria.

Zucht acknowledged that it was unusual to advertise a home outside of the waitlist, but believes the unit will sell. There have already been responses to the ad.

"We will continue to do what we can to find a buyer," she said. "We’ll continue to spread the word to let people know it’s for sale and that it’s a great unit in a great neighbourhood."

According to Zucht there are other larger homes in the WHA inventory that so far are unsold and have not yet found an interested buyer from the waitlist.

"A lot of it has to do with timing," she said. "Summer is always harder with people out of town on holidays and trying to find buyers can be challenging.

"We’re also hearing that a lot of people are excited and keen to wait for (a new housing unit) at Rainbow and elsewhere. We remind people that the (Rainbow) project is not approved yet, and the occupancy is still a minimum two to three years away on the project. We hope people will take the opportunity of buying right now from the existing inventory to build up equity, knowing they can still buy any new Rainbow units, at the Shoestring development, or down the road at the athletes’ village.

"People are excited about the projects coming on, but there won’t be many units ready for occupancy in the next year, except for Nita Lake, which is already sold out, four units at Lakecrest (Alta Vista), which are going to go fast and then 30 new units down in Function Junction."

Zucht says all new applicants to the housing list will have the option of bidding on the larger units that are currently unsold without having to wait to get to the top of the list.

"It’s a great opportunity for somebody just getting on the waitlist who maybe thought they would have to wait a few years to be in a position to buy," she said.

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