Whistler businessman and developer Steve Bayly has been hired as the interim general manager of the new Whistler Resident Housing Corporation, a company wholly-owned by the municipality with a mandate to expedite the creation of resident employee housing.
Bayly said Tuesday he hopes to have 200-300 units of affordable employee housing under construction next summer. He expects that will be a mix of rental housing and housing for sale to valley employees.
Bayly will have three primary duties: to initiate more rental projects like the Lot 78 Nordic Development, funded with the employee housing fund; to co-ordinate private development initiatives for resident employee purchasers; and to oversee the search for a full-time, professional general manager. Managing the stock of rental housing projects is expected to become a growing function of the WRHC.
The creation of the housing corporation was a recommendation of CitySpaces, a consulting firm which reported to council on Whistler’s housing situation last April.
"In the past, a lot of housing initiatives were sparked by volunteers," Bayly said. "But you can’t expect volunteers to work full-time on housing, and you can’t expect municipal staff to be developers."
Initially, directors of the new Whistler Resident Housing Corporation will include Bayly, Mayor Hugh O’Reilly, Councillors Ted Milner, Kristi Wells and Dave Kirk, municipal administrator Jim Godfrey and Paul Starwick of Intrawest. The board will expand and evolve as needs are determined.
The WRHC will report to and is controlled by council, but has a mandate to use the $6.6 million housing fund to build rental housing, which the community will own. The housing fund will not be used to subsidize private, for-purchase employee housing projects.
Bayly suggested modified proposals for 19 Mile Creek and Nesters Hill are the most advanced private developments and most likely to begin construction next year. Both were submitted last fall under the municipality’s call for employee housing proposals.
The WRHC will work with Intrawest on acquiring land for employee housing, although Intrawest is still expected to build its own rental housing.
With the advent of the WRHC the future of the Whistler Valley Housing Society is up in the air. Bayly and Milner are directors of both organizations and Milner said the housing society supports and is working with the new housing corporation.