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Workforce Whistler still focusing on Whistler employees

Deadline will be set, then project will be offered to other employers



The man behind Whistler Workforce Housing wants to keep the temporary housing project local.

But if not enough Whistler businesses sign up soon for the 300 available beds, John Jervis said he may be forced to look at other businesses that will be coming to town for the 2010 Winter Games — for example, VANOC or Bell.

“You are talking to the person who is champion of the business community,” said Jervis, who created Whistler Workforce under his own initiative after the Phoenix Housing project fell through in September.

“I am the guy that is stressing to the supplier that we have to exhaust what we are doing for our own people here. But I do think we need to set some kind of deadline and say, ‘Your chance is coming to an end.’”

Whistler Workforce’s board of directors plans to set a deadline for local businesses to sign up for beds. The deadline will be announced next week.

“After that point then we have to let the supplier go out and cut his own deals,” Jervis said.

The housing project, created in mid-November, involves a number of temporary buildings that would be erected on a property next to the Whistler Racquet Club in February and remain there until the spring of 2010. Rooms would rent for $700 a month.

Jervis was not able to say how many of the 300 beds have been spoken for so far. But he said only seven of the 45 businesses on-board with the Phoenix project have actually said “no,” and eight additional companies have also shown interest.

“I have a few of them that have taken 10 beds, and one that has taken 20 beds,” added Jervis, although he did not name specific companies.

Like Phoenix, Whistler Workforce was designed as a solution for Whistler’s housing crunch, which has been tightening as February 2010 approaches.

Marla Zucht, general manager for the Whistler Housing Authority, does not expect the local housing situation will improve soon.

“Inventory is down, but it has been down since the summer, so that is a trend that we have known is coming,” said Zucht.

“I don’t anticipate that is probably going to turn around.”

For more information on Whistler Workforce, email .