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WHA plan calls for 1,000 new employee beds by 2005



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Melamed said the WHA should also be looking at ways to replenish the Housing Fund so that there’s money in the coffers to build housing in the future.

He suggested investing a small portion of tax dollars into the fund.

"I don’t have all the solutions of course," said Melamed.

"Nobody does."

Melamed said he would not support the current business plan because it does not go far enough in addressing concerns about the existing infrastructure.

Even though it has been more than 20 years since the first employee-restricted project was built, there is still no set formula to how Whistler gets its employee housing. Each project evolves in its own way as deals get massaged.

"Every deal is different," said Wake.

"If we look back at our significant housing projects, and by that I would mean Millar’s Ridge, Spruce Grove, 19 Mile Creek, Seppo’s Way and Spring Creek... they’ve all come about differently. And Nita Lake was different again.

"The thing that we don’t have is a clear road map of (working out) how much benefit for how much development... because there’s no proper measure of what the development benefit is."

Through his travels to other resorts, Wake has developed a rough formula that could be used to work out the value of employee housing with each commercial land deal. Employee housing should be a percentage of the Gross Floor Area of any project.

"One of the things I’ve suggested for future neighbourhoods is we could consider something quite simple like 20 per cent of the developable GFA needs to be dedicated as employee restricted," said Wake.

"It would give you a line in the sand, a starting point for that negotiation. And it would ensure that everything that got built also generated employee housing and that’s really what we need to do."

From a developer’s perspective David Ehrhardt, who has worked on three Whistler employee housing developments, said a formula for employee housing would be very helpful.

"I think that if there were a more clear cut set of rules or program or formula that was being used it would be less confusing for the public to understand and follow," he said.

"But it’s uncharted waters and something that hasn’t been done, but likely would make life a whole lot easier for everyone."

Ehrhardt is a principle in the Nita Lake Lodge development project, Whistler’s latest commercial development in the works.

Along with a lodge and a train station on the shores of Nita Lake, the development deal also includes a number of community benefits. Among those benefits are two new sites of employee housing, one with 44 townhouse units on the west side of Nita Lake, the other with 22 units in two apartments on the edge of the Alpha Creek wetlands.