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Maxed Out

The Whistler Housing Waltz

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By G.D. Maxwell

It’s the housing, stupid!

One step forward; two steps back. One step forward; two steps back. That’s the way we do the Whistler Housing Waltz.

One step forward: The Whistler Housing Authority symbolically busts Evangeline Cannon for renting out her WHA 19-Mile Creek townhome last Christmas and Presidents’ Week. No offense Evangeline, but somebody had to take the fall and you’ll do as well as anybody. Your pleas of "I really do feel it’s our right to cash in on that (nightly rentals)," and "I know that a lot of people in Whistler do do it," don’t elicit much sympathy from this quarter.

The only reason you own your own housing in the first place is because there was a collective, societal will to create more affordable housing to begin with. That will was driven by the simple, yet profound, realization that the future energy and success of our happy mountain resort depended on finding a way of keeping more workerbees in situ instead of commuting from Pemberish or Squamton. In exchange for that monetarily valuable courtesy, you gave up certain property rights, the most important of which was your "right" to rent your property to anyone you please at any price you can get.

That’s the deal you made. Live with it or sell your property to one of the 400 people waiting for the chance to chafe under those oh so onerous terms.

That having been said, I can’t help wondering where Councillor Wells’ proposal to codify Whistler homeowners’ ability to engage in nightly rentals for a certain number of nights each year disappeared to. Remember that one? It was one of the hundred-and-one nifty ideas Kristi had while she was running for re-election a term or two ago. Seems those good ideas only surface at election time, then die a slow, neglected death once the votes have been counted.

But whether that was approved or not, it still wouldn’t be allowed under the WHA covenants… and that’s not a bad thing.

One step back: For as long as there’s been a Barnfield Estates, there’s been a simmering squabble between a small contingent of the Barnfield people and the WHA. It hasn’t been resolved yet and seems headed to court.

The lucky lottery winners in Barnfield got below-market priced lots and built their own homes. The deal was their home would be valued when complete – using admittedly complicated guidelines – and would be employee-restricted and subject to an upside valuation cap based on a complicated but mathematically discernible formula.

The problems – and there are many – arose because there were disagreements on establishing the value of the homes. Some people went overboard on high-end finishes and fixtures; some put considerable sweat equity into their homes by doing much of the building themselves; some… well, you get the picture.

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