By Andrew Mitchell
The word that WHA principals Marla Zucht and Gord McKeever used to sum up the current state of affairs at the housing authority is “evolution”.
Since it was founded in 1997, the Whistler Housing Authority has been a work in progress. As the inventory of housing expanded and evolved, so did the policies that dictated how that inventory is built, sold and resold, all with the goal of housing 75 per cent of resort employees within Whistler’s boundaries.
Not only does business depend on creating beds for employees, so does Whistler’s sense of community — all the reasons people choose to live and work here, and evolve from freewheeling ski bums into engaged citizens, and from renters to property owners.
In response to its own evolution, the WHA is currently undergoing a thorough review of its policies and procedures — partly to catch up to the changing needs of the community and partly to be in a better position to embrace changes that are coming down the road in the form of new housing projects. That includes the Nita Lake development, the athletes’ village and Function Junction, as well as proposed projects in Rainbow, at the Shoestring Lodge site and alongside the Holborne development.
When it comes to making those changes, the WHA is looking for your opinions.
As part of the process for gathering these opinions, the WHA is holding a series of four roundtable discussions through September and October, that are open to everyone in the community with an interest in housing — people living in WHA units, people on the waitlist, and people who are one day hoping to buy into the Whistler dream.
Pique sat down with Zucht, the WHA general manager, and WHA chair McKeever, to discuss the current state of affairs at the WHA, and the need for community engagement as the WHA moves forward.
Pique : First of all, I was wondering if you could explain “standard charge terms,” which, as I understand it, is an umbrella term that seems to apply to a lot of different WHA policies.
Marla Zucht: Standard Charge Terms is a term synonymous with the housing covenants, and they basically outline the various restrictions that apply to the resident-restricted units, from the appreciation formula to rental restrictions, and the right of first refusal. They are available on the website for anyone who wants to look at them before the roundtable meetings.
Gord McKeever : It also defines what an employee and retiree is, what the eligibility requirements are for occupying a resident-restricted unit, and denies occupancy to anyone who is not a part of the Whistler workforce. They are the rules that everyone plays by.