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Phoenix, take two

Housing project resurrected by independents; Buildings could be ready in December if money secured



The Phoenix project is back to give some welcomed relief to Whistler's severe housing crisis this winter. Sort of.

This week, an independent project manager and architect announced they have come up with their own version of the temporary employee housing project and hope to get four re-fabricated buildings ready for occupancy in December, if money is secured. There would be enough units to hold 300 workers.

The new project — named Phoenix Housing Mark II, even though it is not associated with the Phoenix Housing Corporation — received glowing reviews Monday from Whistler council, who unanimously voted to grant the group a development permit during their final meeting of the term.

"We are so excited to have this back on the table, and we really appreciate all your efforts in making this happen," said Councillor Tim Wake.

“I want to comment on how much we want this to happen, and I do not think you will see this group standing in the way.”

But while things look good, the project still needs to secure funding from a bank, as well as get local businesses back on board.

Both the project manager, John Jervis, and architect, Alvaro Ponce de Leon, said they hope to get the money from the Royal Bank of Canada. Lack of funds was the primary reason Phoenix I folded in September. At that time, the former supplier, SG Blocks, was short $3 million.

“We will never be completely confident, but we have been in conversations with the Royal Bank,” said Ponce de Leon, a non-registered architect, adding the group has already submitted their application to RBC.

“They are sponsoring the Games, and they think they can help us out with the project — not all of it of course — but they want to be part of the solution.”

However, Greg Newton from RBC said nothing is set in stone, and he has not received a financing package from the group.

“I am certainly familiar with the project... and was a huge supporter of it when Phoenix I was around,” said Newton.

“I do not know enough about these guys to make a credit decision, and the information I requested back on Oct. 21 has not been forthcoming.”

If successful, Phoenix II will consist of four buildings, with 15 units each. Each unit will have five single-occupancy bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom and a common room.