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Temporary housing project a go

Chamber will confirm Friday which supplier will be stacking modular homes on tennis resort

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Two hundred and ten extra beds will likely be coming to Whistler by November this year and staying until 2010, as plans to build a neighbourhood of temporary modular homes are materializing.

Each bed will cost approximately $650 a month to rent, though costs could come down. Each unit will have access to a kitchen, bathroom, and laundry facility.

“At this point, we actually see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Louise Lundy, president of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.

“This things is actually quite feasible, and we think we can actually make it work.”

Details of the project — renamed the Phoenix Housing Project — are still being ironed out, but the chamber is closing discussions with two suppliers and plans to make the final cut Friday. One supplier is from B.C., the other from the U.S.

The modular homes will go on the Holborn property, the location of the Whistler Racquet Club and Wildwood Bistro and Bar at the end of Northlands Boulevard, across from Marketplace Square. The Holborn property is zoned for 2,000 square metres of employee housing, and both suppliers can fit about 210 beds in that space.

According to Lundy, each housing unit will be full furnished with four beds, one bathroom, one kitchen and a common area with a TV and dining room table. No more than two people will share a bedroom.

“If anyone has ever seen what typical employee housing is offered in Whistler-Blackcomb, that is a good example,” said Lundy.

“They won’t be huge, but they’ll be clean, new, fully outfitted, close to the village and, most importantly, affordable.”

The units will be converted containers, previously destined for the landfill. The containers are easy to stack and can handle heavy snow loads with their strong framing, said Lundy. Units will likely be stacked to two-stories, although a third storey is being considered.

Lease agreements will likely span 18 months, from Nov. 1 2008 to April 30, 2010.

Also, the cost to rent a bed per month has not been finalized.

“We know for sure that the absolute maximum that an employer is going to have to pay per bed is $650, and we are doing a whole bunch of things right now to try and bring that cost down further,” said Lundy.

“For instance, there may be opportunities where companies can get waived through sponsorship, or we may have laundry facilities that are coin operated, or other sponsors may decided that they want to attach their names to this great community project.”

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