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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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And we’ve approached that question at the housing authority in a very arbitrary basis. We had a board meeting and everybody sort of kicked around their idea of what the number should be and then we picked a number out of the air and I think it was $190 per square foot. It certainly wasn’t a very scientific approach…. My view is that clearly it costs more than $155 a foot and my personal view is that the minimum would be about $200 a foot…. The problem is if you try and force that price down what it does is it forces the developer to build a shoddy product. And what happens is when any of these products come onto the market and they’re new, they look great. They’ve got fresh paint, fresh carpets, fresh cabinets, everything looks really nice. And then five years or 10 years later they start to fall apart. And it would have made sense to give the developer another $20 a foot….

Q: What would you say to these 400 applicants on the waitlist who might be getting discouraged and may seriously be considering moving away from Whistler?

A: On a personal level all I can say is I’m doing my best…. I tend to say on council (that) this has got to be on our radar and I say to staff (that) this has got to be on our radar because then it gets it out in the public. … Hopefully council will become embarrassed about the fact that we haven’t moved as quickly as we could have….

I think council as a whole has to start acting more entrepreneurially. We talk about being an entrepreneurial organization. We don’t act in an entrepreneurial manner. We take far too long to make decisions and yes, we have to be careful but sometimes we take far more time than is necessary to make a decision with the appropriate level of care.

All I can do is to continue to push this issue. Certainly I think the inertia is broken at the housing authority. The housing authority is anxious to move ahead with some of these opportunities. We have more staff available and I hope that the inertia has been broken at council.