I find the tone of G.D. Maxwell's editorial, "Home suite home" disturbing. The picture he paints of people who choose to buy a new holiday home is ugly; unprincipled speculators, creating black holes in our neighbourhoods, and tearing apart the fabric of the community. But fortunately for the most part it is not accurate.
Many, whether from the Lower Mainland, Alberta, Eastern Canada, the United States, or overseas, choose Whistler because they are looking for a safe, clean, exciting natural environment. A place where they can bring their families together, when they can find time in their hectic lives. A place where all generations, young and old, can have some fun together. I know of more than one couple that bought here after visiting their son or daughter while they were working here as lifties. Some are semi-retired and commute to the office only when necessary, trying to work their way out of the rat race. They choose Whistler because they like and respect our vision.
Whatever their reasons for buying here they all contribute to the community. The new houses that they build or buy are beautifully detailed custom homes. For the most part the talented tradesmen and women and businesses that build them are local. It takes a lot of people to build one of these fine homes. They are some of the best paying jobs in the valley. And because time is at a premium for many, they hire landscapers, decorators, cleaners, caterers, etc., and usually someone to manage these services. That makes it possible foe many families to stay in the valley.
All of us fortunate enough to own a place face a big property tax bill each year. Theirs are a lot bigger. And still some contribute to local charities, buy Founder's Passes and help to build churches, the Millennium Place, and the library and museum.
Mr. Maxwell wants us to force people to build suites in new houses on properties where a suite previously existed. I wonder how he would like to be forced to build a suite at his summer retreat, "Smilin' Dog Manner." I'm not a lawyer, but with this approach I can foresee the municipality, yet again, embroiled in expensive litigation. Why not encourage instead of coerce? If a lot is large enough to accommodate additional square footage without encroaching on setbacks and height restrictions why not allow an owner/builder extra square footage for an employee suite with price controls? People want large homes for their families and friends with games rooms, media rooms, and wine cellars. Granting additional space creates a win-win situation. The owner doesn't lose valuable space and the community gains more employee housing.