If a town isnt growing, then its dying.
Our unique little piece of paradise will certainly at some point grow past its "cap". Whistler will need to use its considerable leverage to acquire what it needs and when it needs it, by allowing others to build what we can accept. I agree with a number of letters and statements I have seen in the paper, regarding the lack of foresight that council is using. Whistler will have to begin some form of ongoing sustainable development.
Most people when they come to Whistler want to work and have fun. We are pricing the fun out of Whistler. The demand for housing has the prices for the few available units so high, that people cannot afford to utilize what we have. That fantastic boot-fitter will be gone next year, most of his paycheque went to rent. A season pass; to many of us a necessity of life, has become a luxury to the seasonal worker. The people who came here for the sole purpose of being in the mountains cant find a decent, affordable place to live. The stories of five-six people in one- or two-bedroom suites arent fantasy. We (my company) go into these units at the end of every season and clean them up. The units have too many people in too little space, the unit gets destroyed and the people cant wait to get out. We are losing our edge. Whistler was where everyone wanted to be. Whistler is now that place that is so expensive "dont even bother checking it out."
I was outraged when I read that a number of the latest proposals were being dumped. The concerns that were impeding these projects were not serious enough to cripple this valley. That is what will happen. We have a lot of growing to do still, and no one is going to be there to mind the store. A number of large projects have not even begun (e.g. Hyatt, two hotels by the Chateau, First Tracks, Spring Creek, and The Peaks). Who is going to clean, build, and manage these buildings? The mountain is planning to grow; new lifts means more lifties, more restaurants mean more kitchen and waiting staff. Where are all these people going to live?
I have been in tiny two-bedroom units that rent out for $1,500 a month. I picked up a hitchhiker who was paying $500 a month, for half a room in a two-bedroom suite. Where will our teachers for our new school live? If six people are living in a two-bedroom suite, how will a teacher be able to compete financially for that $1,500- $2,000 space? The people that are here seasonally want a bed, a kitchen and a TV. The people that move here want a place to call home for a number of years. We need different spaces for these essential people of Whistler. The only one making out in this whole thing is the landlord that puts his home out to the highest bidder.
If trading off 18 "trophy homes" will get us 470 units with Whistler Three, and if the Zen proposal can do more of the same, then lets do it. The proposals obviously need tinkering, but for council to diminish the value of our employees by rejecting these plans infuriates me.
Good young families are leaving. The people that grew up, fell in love, and got married in Whistler can no longer afford to live here. Living here is tricky, and you have to manage yourself carefully. But it could be done. We are no longer giving the backbone of our community much of a chance.
I remember at the last election, the analogy of a pyramid was used to describe our housing needs. The bottom was the employee housing and the point was the "trophy" home range. With an important amount of affordable and market value housing resting in between. I thing our pyramid has turned into a lolly pop. If council keeps doing this to us than we are all gong to be suckers.
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