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Long wait over for Whistler seniors

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The long wait is finally over — Whistler seniors can be assured that they will be able to move into seniors housing in just a few short years.

“It’s a reality finally,” admitted Gord Leidal, the president of the Mature Action Committee (MAC).

“This is a big moment in time for seniors.

“It’s taken a long time.”

He is encouraging all MAC members and anyone interested in the future of seniors housing to attend the upcoming MAC annual general meeting on Thursday, March 27. There they can learn about the first tangible opportunity ever in Whistler to buy housing in a “seniors community” — an opportunity with a clear move in date and a firm price point.

It’s been almost 15 years that MAC has been working to find a seniors housing opportunity in Whistler, a place where seniors could “age in place.”

Fifteen years of lobbying municipal government and developers, researching opportunities, and pursuing potential deals.

Deals have been struck in recent years with the Holborn developers and the Rainbow developers for seniors housing at both of those developments. But it is still not clear when either of those projects will be delivered and how much they will cost.

The athletes’ village project, on the other hand, has confirmed both of those unknowns. The project will be ready for move in as early as the summer of 2010, once the units have been converted from Games mode to legacy mode. They will cost on average $231 per square foot.

That certainty around price point and the date of delivery is very attractive to seniors, said Leidal.

“(The people who are interested in the project) are people who are definitely ready to move, and obviously we have a lot of those members now,” he added.

He said the MAC board was surprised to see the level of interest in the athletes’ village project in a recent survey sent to all 127 households (205 members) of the organization.

Almost half the membership filled out the survey, 24 saying they would definitely like to purchase at the athletes’ village and a further 12 saying they would possibly like to purchase. An additional three households said they would definitely like to rent housing there, with four more saying they would possibly like to rent. MAC is challenged to provide rental housing in the project because there’s no equity financing available in order to make that happen.

“From our survey it certainly looks like we’re going to be oversubscribed for the athletes’ village,” said Leidal.

Joe Redmond, president of the Whistler Development Corporation, which is the municipal body in charge of the $142 million development, will be speaking at the AGM.

The WDC has agreed to reserve the top two floors of a four-storey apartment building just for seniors in the neighbourhood legacy project, now called Cheakamus Crossing.

There will be one-bedroom units at 750 square feet, one bedroom plus den at 850 square feet and two bedroom units at 950 and 1,020 square feet.

In a separate nearby location, several three-bedroom townhouses will also be reserved for seniors — units as big as 1,400 square feet with the master bedroom on the ground floor.

At an average price of $231 per square foot that means the housing will range from roughly $175,000 for the smaller units to $325,000 for the larger.

The units will be ready for presale by early fall this year. MAC members will have to sell their existing homes and declare their new home their primary residence in order to qualify. During the presale potential buyers will be able to inspect a display home before committing to buy any units in the village.

More questions will be answered at the AGM.

MAC’s annual general meeting will take place at Our Lady of the Mountains Roman Catholic Church at the bottom of Lorimer Road in Whistler Cay. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

In addition to a presentation from Redmond of the WDC, there will be another presentation on the B.C. Seniors’ Games. Joan Birchall, zone 4 publicity and promotions coordinator for the Games will be speaking about opportunities to participate.

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