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Last chance to comment on WHA policies

Respondents agree to changes

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By Andrew Mitchell

Friday, Dec. 15 is the last opportunity that residents have to weigh in on eight changes to the Whistler Housing Authority policies, including changes to Standard Charge Terms, waitlist procedures, and rental restrictions.

According to WHA general manager Marla Zucht the response so far has been strong and it’s likely that all of the proposed changes will go through.

“We have had 109 responses to the proposed policies, and the majority of respondents have agreed to them,” said Zucht. “When we have all the responses in we’ll go to the WHA board in January for their approval, but looking at the direction to date it looks fairly positive.”

If the WHA board approves of the changes to WHA policies, the WHA hopes to take them to municipal council by late January or early February. Council will make the final decision, taking into account the results of the online survey.

Some of the most dramatic changes will be to the administration of the waitlist. If approved, the WHA will keep the “three strikes” policy whereby residents on the waitlist are sent to the back of the list if they refuse three homes in a row — but with some important changes. Strikes will no longer be given if a unit’s maximum resale exceeds the applicant’s mortgage pre-approval amount, if nobody on the list purchases the unit at the maximum resale price, and if a unit is deemed in substandard condition.

The WHA is also proposing to change the one year requirement for residents to get onto the housing waitlist, allowing all employees who average at least 20 hours a week to apply.

Businesses may also be able to get on the WHA waitlist for new housing projects, as the WHA explores the issue.

The new WHA policies would also allow special consideration based on housing affordability for WHA waitlist applicants that currently own market housing in Whistler.

In other areas, another important policy change would eliminate the five per cent cap on annual appreciation based on the Core Consumer Price Index, and allow owners to voluntarily switch to the CCPI formula if the appreciation of their homes is currently tied to the Vancouver housing market. Legal assistance will be required.

There are several ways switching to the CCPI could be a benefit. For one, if homes in Vancouver continue to appreciate in the double digits, switching to the slower-growing CCPI could result in lower property taxes down the road. For another, if the Vancouver housing market declines, switching to the usually dependable CCPI could protect a home’s maximum resale value.

Recognizing that some residents travel or may work abroad, the WHA is proposing a change to the current rental restrictions whereby an employee housing unit cannot be unoccupied by an owner for more than one year cumulatively. Under the new policy, the owners have to occupy the unit for six months and a day of every year, and can apply for exceptions if they wish to leave Whistler for more than 12 months over two calendar years.

Another significant change would allow WHA properties to be transferred to heirs, providing certain conditions are met.

For more details on the proposed changes or to share your opinion on policies, the WHA website is www.whistlerhousing.ca

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