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New location put forward for temporary workers housing

H.O.M.E. Committee to bring proposal to council Feb. 18

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Horler took issue with the description of the proposed housing as “stackable shipping containers” or a “trailer park” because of the negative connotation it conjures.

“We are looking at a remote housing solution,” said Horler. “These are not containers… These are comfortable, custom-built units.”

Co-chair Ralph Forsyth echoed those comments.

“It needs to be Whistler-style,” he said. “We’re not just going to throw up man-camps.

“We don’t want to make it worse for people.”

By comparison, there are workers who are currently living in deplorable conditions, sharing space in living rooms or stuffed into bedrooms and paying exorbitant rents.

It is the familiar Whistler winter story but all signs point to things getting worse in the next two years as the resort readies for the 2010 Games.

The H.O.M.E. committee is planning to go before council at the Monday, Feb. 18 meeting with a proposal. It will include a location, a business case for the housing, and a list of interested business partners willing to put up the money.

“This is business going out and solving a business problem,” said Horler. “We need partners in municipal government to take a close look at zoning solutions as part of the equation.”

To ensure that the housing stays temporary, which has been an issue raised by some members of council, Forsyth said bylaws could be put in place to make sure the housing is gone by the summer of 2010. At that time hundreds of units will be sold to local employees as the athletes’ village converts into an employee housing neighbourhood, which could ease the seasonal housing pressures.

temporary housing is expected to cost between $500 and $600 per bed, per month. Business owners would have to guarantee the money and then lease the room to their staff.

Chamber of Commerce president Louise Lundy does not expect that to be a problem.

“There will be no shortage of takers on the beds,” she said this week. “That we know for sure.

“We will make every effort to have those employers step up.” The focus, she said, would be on small businesses that may not have the deep pockets like bigger corporations to buy market housing for their staff.