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housing strategy

Resale controls on all new employee housing projects, establishment of a housing authority and granting bed units beyond the 52,500 cap — if a project is 100 per cent employee housing — are some of the policies being considered in the municipality’s Affordable Employee Housing Strategy. The strategy, which has been reviewed once by the Whistler Valley Housing Society and will go back to the society next month before coming back to council for adoption at its March 18th meeting, is intended to replace most of the existing housing policy in the municipality’s Comprehensive Development Plan. Council received the report for information at Monday’s meeting. Among the policies proposed in the strategy are that all new employee housing projects be subject to resale controls similar to those put on the Millar’s Pond townhouses which will be developed this year. The resale controls are intended to keep employee housing projects affordable. The strategy includes examples of single family projects that do not have resale controls. In Lorimer Ridge, for instance, the assessments on land values have increased from $70,000 in 1994 to $85,000 in 1995, a 20 per cent increase in land value alone in one year, despite the employee use restriction. As well as resale controls, all new employee housing projects, both rental and for purchase, will have to be made available on a lottery basis. Another part of the strategy includes consideration of bed units for projects that would put the municipality beyond the 52,500 cap — but only for projects which are 100 per cent employee housing. The 1994 Official Community Plan already gives the municipality the authority to grant bed units beyond 52,500 if they are for employee housing. However, at last fall’s annual town meeting there was considerable support for not going beyond the bed unit ceiling for any reason. The strategy also suggests consideration needs to be given to assigning bed units to the funds collected through the employee service charge. That fund is now estimated at $3.7 million, which translates to approximately 750 employees. Direction on how to use the funds generated through the employee service charge are also part of the strategy. Municipal priorities are 1) land purchase, 2) equity/start-up funding for new employee housing, 3) private sector or employer opportunities to secure market housing for employees (this could include mortgage assistance), 4) funding an administrative housing body. The responsibilities of the housing body may include education, investigation of housing initiatives, allocation of funds from the employee service charge, co-ordinating housing agreements, running housing lotteries, resale and rental control, negotiating with the Ministry of Lands for the release of Crown lands and reviewing options for the creation of new housing opportunities. The Affordable Employee Housing Strategy also put together some estimates on the demand for employee housing. It estimates that over the next five years the resident population requiring affordable accommodation will grow an additional 1,500-2,400, on top of the existing unfulfilled need.

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