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The once and future housing solution

New chair Nick Davies discusses the opportunities, priorities and directions for the Whistler Housing Authority

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At this critical juncture in the WHA’s history, Pique Newsmagazine sat down for a candid interview with the newly appointed chair of the WHA.

Davies has been at the helm of the organization since the beginning of June. This is what he said.

Q: What do you want to accomplish in your new role as chair of the Whistler Housing Authority?

A: Well, a couple of things. Number one is I want to get this governance review completed…

It’s something that I initiated as a result of discussions with the housing authority and with staff. And the feeling on both sides was that the working relationship between the housing authority and the hall, could be better. So I started asking myself, well why is that, what are the issues? And a lot of it was stuff that was really easy to fix… Really it’s just that the housing authority was created (in 1997) and as any entrepreneurial organization evolves, the way it does business sort of gets ingrained, and it was time to stand back and say "is this the best way to do business or could we do it better?"

In a global sense, what (the review) does is it makes sure that the municipality and the housing authority are heading in the same direction to accomplish our objectives… it makes sure that everybody understands what their job is and what the relationship is….

(In addition to the governance review) we (also) need to start thinking about what we’re going to do with some of the opportunities that we have available. And some of these are issues that will take a lot of planning and some of them are issues where we (council)… simply have to come up with a plan of action…. We’ve got $5 million in cash and potentially 300 acres of land – those are big decisions and they require some serious planning. But there are also opportunities… such as road ends and road allowances and some small parcels (of land) around – those sorts of opportunities, you just need to figure out what to do with those and get on with it.

The concern I have is that if we don’t start wrapping our minds around this, there’s going to be some public pressure. People are going to say "you’ve got the land and you’ve got a bunch of money and you’ve got a waiting list of 400, let’s get on with it." And we have to resist that pressure because like any other large scale planning decision, we have to be very, very careful what we do in this community. But one of things I’d like to do is get going with those road ends and those smaller parcels and see what we can do with them.