In last weeks Pique there were three articles (Municipal hall far removed from public, page 4, The community has to recognize this is a problem, page 6, WHA, chamber say surveys confirm need for housing, page 9) and one letter (Whats council sniffing?, page 5) dealing with the employee housing issue. Whats the intent behind that much coverage in a single weekly issue?
Recently, two proposed staff housing developments (and the creation of bed units over the OCP) compromised the environment. I unequivocally support mayor and councils decisions, made in part out of respect for the natural environment of our fast vanishing valley bottom eco-system. Furthermore, I do not believe that municipal hall is far removed from public ideology, but rather, they are in tune with it. The environment continually ranks as the most important issue among Whistler residents.
Given the concern over the environment, especially by the younger members of the community, those most likely to be living in employee housing, would the expressed issues facing the WHA, the Chamber and Mr. Manuel be solved or even partially solved by the proposed developments? I have my doubts and believe that such developments would erode community moral, leading to even lower service standards, guest experience, repeat visits, economic benefits .
To discover what lies at the heart of Whistlers current values, I agree with Bob Barnetts suggestion of a public discussion about community needs and how they can be achieved and documenting that process and calling it the updated Official Community Plan and the Comprehensive Development Strategy. The process would be enlightening and should include all community viewpoints including that of employee housing recipients. Their perspective on the issues underlying the current discord could be obtained by survey questions, such as:
Do you support affordable employee housing if it degrades Whistler's wetlands and greenbelts? Yes or No.
Would you feel good living in affordable employee housing knowing that it came by degrading Whistler's wetland or greenbelts? Yes or No.
Affordable employee housing should be built only in areas that do not degrade Whistlers wetlands and greenbelts. Yes or No.
How would you answer those questions? mayor and council already have.