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

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Though there was some opposition to the project, Ehrhardt said he believes the bulk of the community understands the concept of exchanging benefits for rezoning land. It’s a methodology that’s been used in Whistler for years, he said.

"It’s nothing new and it’s a win-win situation," he said.

Wake agrees that there is a long history in Whistler of community amenities being required with development.

In the past, as the resort tried to focus on becoming a four-season destination, many of those amenities were "recreational amenities" like golf courses. Over the years those amenities have changed to "community amenities" – primarily employee housing.

Wake used two employee housing projects to illustrate his point.

Three years ago developers wanted to build homes on Treetop Lane behind Nesters.

They could only get the rezoning on that land if they included two apartment buildings for the employee housing pool as part of the deal. Every second house on the street also had to have a mandatory employee suite.

Wake recalls there was strong opposition to the whole concept.

"They didn’t want anything in their backyard but they especially didn’t want disruptive employee housing," he said.

Still the municipality ploughed ahead and created a successful project with employee housing beside upscale homes.

Amenities were also used as leverage for Intrawest’s large development plan for the Creekside area and south.

In order to get rezoning to develop at Taluswood, Kadenwood and Spring Creek, Intrawest kicked in a host of community benefits. Among the benefits were roughly 140 employee housing units at Spring Creek, a school site, firehall site, daycare and Valley Trail connections, among other things.

"To suggest that we’ve given away the farm or given Intrawest this huge benefit without receiving the benefit ourselves, I think is unfair," said Wake.

"In the end what is comes down to is we want to make a deal that’s fair to the community and fair to the developer."

And now the inventory sits at just under 4,000 employee-restricted beds. There more opportunities on the horizon, both in preserving the market stock and in creating brand new stock.

"There are probably a dozen sites that are in play," said Wake.

Among the targeted sites are the Public Works Yard, Parking Lots 1-4 and the Olympic Land Bank. There is also private land identified for potential employee housing like the Boot Pub, Mons West and the BC Rail Lands.

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