News » Whistler


By Kevin Damaskie On the surface, Whistler’s housing problem seems to be one of the young, educated, transient workers who breeze into the valley every winter in search of a lift pass, a job, some fun and a cheap place to live. If any of the young adults who don’t have a place to live this winter were looking to vent their rentable spleens on local politicians, they surely didn’t show up at the annual Town Hall Meeting on Sunday. The gymnasium at Myrtle Philip Community School was packed Sunday afternoon. But it wasn’t packed with the 1,000 or so workers who have been left out in the cold through the 1995 version of Whistler’s annual housing crunch. A breakdown of the 400 people who sat around those consensus-building tables goes as follows. Folks aged 50 or older made up the largest group at 32.6 per cent. Next in number was the 30-39 age group that made up 30 per cent of the crowd, followed closely by 40-49 age group at just under 28 per cent — fully 90 per cent of the crowd was over the age of 30. Just under eight per cent of the attendees were aged 25-29 and 1.4 per cent of the people were aged 20-24. A negligible .4 per cent of the crowd fell into the 15-19 year old category. The gym was packed with Whistler’s more established faces, 85 per cent of the them were Whistler residents, 10 per cent were second homeowners and 5 per cent were visitors. Most of the people in the gym probably own their own home. Of the seven people at my discussion table, I was the only renter. The introductions were nice and everyone wanted to deal with the employee housing situation, but when I told the group I was at the meeting because the dream of owning a home in Whistler — which they had all realized — was beyond my financial scope, they looked worried. Here I sit, the average Whistlerite — young, educated, employed, real estate challenged and just a tad pissed off that I may never own a home in the valley I call home — yet the thousand or so others like me were nowhere to be seen. The second biggest beef of most in attendance, after the ludicrous housing situation, was with property taxes that many felt too high. According to Mayor Ted Nebbeling, the lack of youth representation at the meeting points to a number of problems that need addressing. "Youth and youth issues are definitely going to be a focus of the next monitoring elements," Nebbeling says. "We are going to have to find a way to get youth involved in these types of positive discussions which are shaping the future of Whistler as we speak." Why were there so few young adults at the meeting? No one seems to know. Maybe they don’t care, or they think no one cares to listen. According to Nebbeling, young Whistler residents should care about decisions affecting their future and politicians should care to listen. "To let the youth issues slide because not a lot of young people showed up at the meeting would be very irresponsible," he says. But if Sunday’s meeting was designed to attract the average Whistlerite, it failed. In the last issue of Pique we published a demographic profile of the average Whistlerite based on numbers gleaned from the 1995 monitoring report. Some of the average Whistlerites who weren’t at the meeting: the largest single group of Whistler residents, aged 20-24, the two-thirds of Whistler’s population who rent their home and spend over 30 per cent of their annual income on rent. The fears of the housing challenged may be addressed at a meeting of the Whistler Valley Housing Society on Nov. 30.

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