Keep rents fair
I am a renter in the Whistler Housing Authority Beaver Flats building in Creekside. I consider myself very lucky to be living in this housing and to have a fairly secure place to live, especially coming into the Olympics period.
That being said, I recently received disturbing news that I think warrants some action. I arrived back in Whistler from my vacation, part of forced cost reductions from my employer, to find a note from the WHA property manager informing me that my rent would increase by 3.7 per cent. This is the second straight year the rent has increased.
My question to the WHA and the board is: How was this rental increase determined? In the last 12-month period, to April 2009 in Canada Inflation (based on the Consumer Price Index) rose 0.4 per cent. So in a period when we are seeing very little inflation we are seeing a well-above-CPI increase in WHA rents. This most recent 3.7 per cent increase being over nine times higher, in fact.
We are in a period of worldwide financial crisis. I know of many workers in town who have had their salaries cut and/or hours reduced with little hope of a pay increase or even equalization in the next financial year. I have seen my overall wages roll back +5 per cent and virtually no chance of seeing a pay rise next financial year.
So in a period where my wages have actually been reduced by roughly 8 per cent my rent will have risen close to 7 per cent.
I think most renters would appreciate an explanation of why the rent has increased well above CPI. How about giving us a break in this economic crisis and drop the increase for next financial year, or at least reduce it to 0.4 per cent in line with CPI?
(Editor's note: The annual allowable rental increases are set by the Residential Tenancy Branch of the British Columbia government. The annual allowable increase for 2009, set by the RTB last September, is 3.7 per cent.)
Call pay parking what it is
In an argument over semantics, whether we called the parking that we used to have "free" or "subsidized" is irrelevant. What we need to do is call what we have now a "parking tax" (or more precisely a "Drive to Whistler Village" tax). Want to come see a movie? Pay the movie theatre their twenty bucks, and then kick an extra six bucks over to the muni (30 per cent tax rate). Need to get your bike tuned? $80 to your mechanic of choice, two dollars to the muni to drop off your bike, and another two, to come pick it up (20 per cent). Want to come up and ski for the day? How about coughing up an extra eight or twelve dollars to RMOW for the privilege.