Task force fleshing out initiatives to retain employee housing stock
The municipality cant point to the so-called "trophy homes" as an excuse for the lack of affordability in Whistler, said local developer Tim Regan.
"Nineteen-ninety-four was the end of affordability," he said in a brief presentation to the new housing task force made up of 11 Whistler residents reviewing non-cost housing initiatives.
Regan recalls that it was at that time when property values jumped to the next level (around the $350,000 mark) and effectively excluded the average worker in Whistler on a fixed income from getting a mortgage at the bank.
"The math ran out," said Regan.
It was also at that time when Regan, who owns and operates Vision Pacific development company, stopped building suites in old cabins.
"It was cheaper, easier and more profitable at that stage just to knock those houses over," he said.
This may have marked the beginning of the erosion of Whistlers housing market for the employees who live and rent here.
The information didnt come as any surprise to the new housing task force, a group charged with reviewing a list of non-cost resident housing initiatives recently developed by municipal staff and the Whistler Housing Authority.
The facts about Whistlers housing situation speak for themselves.
Ten years ago there were 75 suites built in Whistler homes annually. In the last three years there has been less than 20 per year.
Smaller, older, and more affordable homes are being replaced by larger homes, which is also eroding the resident housing market.
And some families no longer want to rent their suites for additional income, preferring instead to use that space for their families.
Theres a combination of factors eating away at the availability of the resident housing market and the task force is looking a ways to stop the drain of the existing resident housing stock.
There was a variety of suggestions brought forth at last Fridays meeting, the second of three meetings before the task force reports its ideas to council at the Monday, Feb. 17 meeting.
"Why dont we have a marketing campaign to get you to rent out your homes?" suggested Councillor Caroline Lamont, who was sitting in at the meeting.
The campaign could run every spring or fall to encourage homeowners to rent suites, which are an integral part of the housing market and are important to the success of the valley, she said.
Citing the fact that the housing solutions are very complicated to understand, task force member Tom Horler suggested there could be a position created just to deal with housing questions and concerns from the public.