On Monday, municipal council at last voted to endorse the Vancouver 2010 bid after months of negotiations with the province over Olympic legacies. The council and mayor voted 6-1 in favour of a resolution to support the games, with Ken Melamed casting the only no vote.
The decision attracted national and international media attention, but there wasnt much high-fiving in the streets.
Council can be congratulated for sticking to their guns and getting the best deal possible for Whistler from the provincial government, but for most people Ive talked to the typical reaction to the announcement was a big fat "oh." No exclamation point or question mark.
Maybe an event that is still almost eight years down the road is too distant to expect any real enthusiasm.
For the transient workers, 2010 is about as important a number as the square root of Pi even if such a number existed, its doesnt affect life a whole lot.
As for the long-term people, lets just say that some of us have more pressing things to worry about.
Like, will we even be able to afford to live in Whistler in another eight years? Check out the classified section under long term accommodation and youll see what I mean home ownership is a pipe dream for people who can easily spend half their paycheques to rent a tiny basement suite.
The Olympics will generate some affordable staff housing, but thats something we need Thursday, not in 2010. By then it will be too late for many of us.
Affordability and employee housing is quickly becoming the leading campaign issue in the Whistler municipal election, but its not like you can fault previous councils for doing nothing. Its just that the supply they created just cant keep up with the demand.
Part of the reason for the shortage is the simple fact that Whistlers population is growing. Between 2000 and 2001, the permanent population increased from 9,676 to 9,965. Its hardly a refugee crisis, but we needed to create 289 more employee beds just to keep up, and there was already a shortage to begin with.
Another reason that council cant keep up with housing demands and I refer you once again to the classified section is that there is no longer any affordable housing in the valley that isnt specifically designated and controlled as such. Rent costs are going up, and there are fewer low-end rental properties available every year.
The smallest, most dilapidated A-frame will fetch more than half a million dollars these days because the land is so valuable. Developers can afford to buy these properties, tear the existing houses down, build larger residences, and still manage to sell them for a sizeable profit. With that kind of money floating around, landlords dont have a lot of incentive to rent their places anymore.