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Staff housing now possible at Rainbow

Council approves five changes to neighbourhood’s housing agreement



Businesses can now purchase a home at Rainbow for staff housing.

But in order to make sure people are aware their home may be next to staff housing, council voted to amend Rainbow's housing agreement so businesses could only purchase in phases of Rainbow not yet offered for sale.

Councillor Grant Lamont drove the need for this home when he recounted his experiences living next to a business-owned property in 19 Mile Creek, the Whistler Housing Authority (WHA) development in Alpine Meadows.

"It was like a 800-pound gorilla in a closet," said Lamont, describing the rowdy behaviour next door.

The 19-Mile property is the only WHA property to have been sold to a business, and it has now been converted back to an owner-occupied unit because of the problems it caused.

Council's resolution came as welcome news for Marla Zucht, president of WHA.

"We are not opposed to businesses buying, whatsoever, but we just need to make sure there is thought into where those units are going to be located," said Zucht.

"That just goes back to us being respectful and giving consideration to families who already bought at those units."

Only two phases of Rainbow have been launched so far, so businesses still have the opportunity to purchase 113 single-family homes and duplexes, she said.

In total, Rainbow is composed of 80 duplexes and 70 single-family homes.

Allowing businesses into Rainbow was just one of five changes added to Rainbow's housing agreement on Tuesday night.

All changes were made, at least in part, to "make units in Rainbow attractive to qualified buyers" and put the neighbourhood more on par with Cheakamus Crossing.

The other four alterations were:

· Employees at Whistler Olympic Park can now purchase at Rainbow;

· The resale price appreciation will now start when someone buys a home, as opposed to when they move in, similar to what is being done at Cheakamus Crossing;

· Thirty secondary qualified purchasers - residents who own market homes in Whistler - will be able to purchase a single family home, or a duplex; and

· The deadline for Rainbow to make a price submission for the 20 seniors' townhouses has been extended by a year.

Ralph Forsyth was the only member of council to vote against the changes, saying he is uncomfortable opening up duplexes to secondary qualified purchases.

But Mayor Ken Melamed said the amendment was made because duplex sales have been slow. Only 12 of the 24 available duplexes have been purchased since the units went on sale last fall. Conversely, 12 of the 13 available single-family homes have sold.

Meanwhile, sales at Cheakamus Crossing have been strong. According to Melamed, 85 per cent of the units have already been sold. The project includes 152 townhomes and 67 condominiums.