Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

Playing the numbers at 19 Mile



Before we get into this week’s round of name calling and mud slinging – on second thought, let’s avoid both of those fun-filled activities this week – I think our good neighbours at 19 Mile Creek, at least the ones who bought their homes when they were new back in 2000, ought to acknowledge their debt to the Whistler Housing Authority. Not the debt of having a place to live; heck, the hard-workin’ boys and girls at WHA were just doing their job. The debt I’m talking about is more tangible.

If you’re one of the lucky ones who bought a three-bedroom home at 19 Mile, your debt to the WHA is $99,124. That’s right, a cool hundred grand. If you bought a smaller place, your debt is less. If you bought from the original purchaser, even less.

So if you’re one of the 19 Milers who want to get lawyers involved or who think you can’t trust those rascals at the WHA because they’re obviously out to screw you, right about now you might be askin’ yourself why you’re beholden to the WHA for an uncomfortable amount of the paper profits you figure you’ve made on your home.

Ironically, your indebtedness stems from the same kind of meddling you’re complaining about right now.

In 1998 your neighbours-to-be were up in arms about the prospect of you moving in to their neighbourhood. They organized, passed around petitions, and packed a public meeting at the Chateau where they proceeded to say scandalous things about your good character, calling you drug dealers, pornographers, paedophiles and – brace yourself – transient low life. They were certain you’d ruin their neighbourhood, Alpine, drive down their property values and quite possibly turn their kids into junkies. They said very unkind things about and to council of the day, not unlike some of the things that have been getting said lately.

But council persevered, hewing to the first principle that informs all of the decisions WHA makes. That principle, in case you’ve forgotten, is that housing employees in town is a good thing. One of the other first principles is that the housing produced should be affordable for second and subsequent buyers, not just the original purchaser. I think they kept referring to it as "a nest, not a nest egg."

Having said that, the folks at WHA – who, let us not forget, were breaking new ground with this affordable, sustainable housing gambit – weren’t very happy with the way the resale cap formula was working. The formula itself, the one the Barnfielders seem to have so much trouble understanding, limited the appreciation to 3.4 per cent in the first year. Subsequent years’ appreciation was to be calculated at 40 per cent of Royal Bank prime rate less 2 per cent. Since the placement of brackets is everything in math, I think the formula looked something like this: .4 x (RBC Prime — 0.02).