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wvhs president

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The Whistler Valley Housing Society, under new president Drew Stotesbury, hopes to clarify its role with council and the 12 proposals received under the affordable resident housing call in the next two weeks. Stotesbury, who was elected president Nov. 28 after former president Max Kirkpatrick resigned as president and as a director, said this week: "We’ve requested a meeting with council. We need to see what they’re going to do with the proposals." Stotesbury added the housing society has "never been asked to play a role (in evaluating the 12 proposals), and we’ve never asked to, either." The proposal call was made at the same time the housing society was expressing to council frustrations with its role. A month ago the housing society board issued a press release stating a majority of the board was opposed to the housing call, that the housing society should get back to building housing as proposals are received, and requesting authority to spend the $6 million that has accumulated in the municipality’s housing fund. Last week the housing society issued a statement which reaffirmed that position. It said in part: "The Whistler Valley Housing Society’s role has informally evolved over time from its original mandate of creating affordable housing to become a quasi-advisory commission on housing policy issues. It is the opinion of the board of directors that this fragmentation is inappropriate and that all efforts should be redirected to its primary objective — creating housing. This position was expressed to the previous council of the Resort Municipality of Whistler in the context of the lack of progress in utilizing the Employee Housing Fund in a meaningful way. Reversing this trend represents the number one priority of the society and the board members have reaffirmed its intent to work with the new council on an immediate solution." Stotesbury added he can see some benefits to keeping the housing society and council separate entities. He suggested an example of a role the housing society might play is if a proposal is rejected by council the WVHS may be able to approach the developer or land owner to make some suggestions and work toward modifying proposal so it’s acceptable. He added the WVHS free of conflict because it won’t be the one to have turned down the proposal. Stotesbury noted this week that every candidate for council in the recent municipal elections acknowledged a need for housing. "I think we’re the most viable tool for doing something about it. "We’re here, we’re keen and committed if you want to use us." He said time is of the essence if some inroads are to be made on housing before next winter. Meanwhile, the municipal planning department issued a statement this week regarding the 12 affordable resident housing proposals which said in part: "all proposals must be evaluated against the appropriate Official Community Plan policies and the policies under the Affordable Resident Housing Strategy. A staff review team has been assembled and has been given a priority mandate of evaluating the proposals against the review criteria. A short list of proposals will be established for council’s consideration. The short listed proposals will then go through a second, more detailed review and public process." The short listed proposals will be displayed at a public open house early in the new year, where public comment can be made. The 12 proposals received total far more than the 1,700 bed units the municipality has allocated for affordable housing. Stotesbury said the housing society hasn’t studied the 1,700 bed unit figure to see if it’s appropriate. Robie Thorn was elected vice president of the housing society at last week’s meeting. He is also the secretary treasurer.

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