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Youth feeling the pinch of slow start to season

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Whistler youth outreach worker Greg McDonnell says a late start to the snow season has put pressure on many workers by delaying the arrival of their first pay cheque.

He says the number of youth visiting the food bank each week jumped from 30 to 90 in November, as many could not afford to eat in the interim.

However, McDonnell says accommodation – or lack of – is still the number one issue facing young people in Whistler.

"At least a dozen young people have left town already because they cannot find housing, some are squatting and there are scores of others crowding into friends’ places because there is nowhere else to go."

He says cash hungry landlords are also putting a reasonable standard of living out of reach of many youth, who cannot afford, for example, $2,000 monthly rent for a two bedroom apartment.

McDonnell is concerned that violence could be a spin-off from the overcrowding problem and says he is even encouraging youth to seek work at other Canadian ski resorts.

Even when rentals are available, they are often closed to youth, he added.

"There is a lot of frustration as many youth feel they are being judged by landlords who suspect they will party and cause trouble just because they are young," McDonnell said.

McDonnell says Whistler will continue to lose workers to other resorts over the coming weeks, as many young people have set themselves deadlines to find housing or leave.

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