As the Phoenix housing project continues to gain steam — with several key pieces falling into place this week — enthusiasm around town is palpable.
“I think it is exactly what we need and exactly what we should be focusing on,” said Joey Gibbons, owner of four bars in Whistler, of the temporary housing project being built to ease Whistler’s anticipated housing crunch over the next two years.
“The last thing we want on our staff’s mind going into a season is where they are going to hang their hat… I am just worried there is not enough units.”
The housing, organized by the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, will be in the form of modified shipping containers and will be in place from November this year until April 30, 2010.
Scott Taber of Four Seasons Resort Whistler said his hotel is also eyeing the units, although he was not able to say exactly how many beds the company will sign up for.
“We are still evaluating our own needs, but we’ll come to those conclusions very quickly,” said Taber.
“We’ll be definitely taking some,” he said, adding he is impressed by the privacy, layout, creative design and use of common space in the plans for the units.
And owner of the local McDonald’s, Tom Horler, said his company plans on signing up for eight beds.
“As an employer, I think the configuration is absolutely ideal because you can take a unit that has three bedrooms or you can take a unit that has four bedrooms,” said Horler.
“It is like your own self-contained affordable staff house.”
Horler added his company will also help pay rental costs for its employees. This is not new policy, however, since the local company already subsidizes staff housing up to 40 per cent.
On Monday, council unanimously passed a motion to waive service fees and expedite the permit process. The motion also recognized the density on the Holborn site, where the housing will be erected, may need to be increased if demand warrants.
This was the go-ahead the chamber needed to make the project a reality and get at least five buildings of temporary housing up-and-running by November.
“I don’t think we could have asked for it to be any better,” said chamber president Louise Lundy.
“I was really quite surprised that we essentially got council to agree to our three requests with out any questions or concerns or real concerns from the audience, so we were delighted.”