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Council discusses new Cheakamus Crossing housing agreement

Agreement brought forward in preparation for sale of Lot 1 units
Housing Agreement CC 28.46 FILE PHOTO BY STEVE ANDREWS
An aerial view of the site in Whistler’s Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood where two new apartment buildings are now under construction.

Whistler’s mayor and council gave first readings this week to a new housing agreement for Cheakamus Crossing in preparation for the anticipated sale of employee-restricted units.

The new housing agreement bylaw, if approved, would give the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) authority to register an updated housing covenant over Lot 1 of the Cheakamus Crossing Phase 2 lands, which were granted to the municipality as part of a community land bank agreement ahead of the 2010 Olympic Games for providing affordable employee housing.

“Housing agreements are the legal tool municipalities can use to secure employee housing,” explained planner John Chapman in his presentation to council on Tuesday, Nov. 16

The new agreement would also establish occupancy and eligibility requirements, initial sales prices and restrictions, and administration and management of the housing units. It comes in anticipation of the sale of 100 Whistler Housing Authority (WHA) units in Cheakamus that will be part of two four-storey employee housing apartments currently under construction.

The maximum purchase price for the 574-square-foot units range from $310,000 to $340,000, while the homeowner can rent their unit for a maximum of $1,578.50 per month. For the 824-sq.-ft units, the max purchase price ranges from $405,000 to $445,000, with the homeowner permitted to rent the unit for a maximum of $2,266 per month. The maximum purchase price for the 860-sq.-ft. units is between $440,000 and $460,000, while the homeowner is allowed to rent the unit for a maximum of $2,365 per month. The larger 1,051-sq.-ft. units have a max purchase price ranging from $500,000 to $535,000, with the homeowner permitted to rent the unit for a maximum of $2,890.25 per month.

More than 70 per cent of the WHA purchase waitlist is pre-approved for financing for the buildings’ proposed price points, while up to 35 per cent are pre-approved for the higher-end units, Chapman said.

The agreement would also introduce a financial penalty of $700 per day to be paid by the owner if the unit is used or occupied in breach of the agreement.

Councillor John Grills said enforcement would be key as the WHA continues to expand Whistler’s affordable housing stock, and he mentioned an idea that has been floated before of adding a compliance officer either through the RMOW or in partnership with the WHA.   

“These are different and expensive to build and we want to make sure they’re being used how they’re designed to be used. I think we could be more forceful than we have in the past so maybe that’s something to look at in the future,” he said.

On the eligibility side, definitions of an employee, retiree and Whistler qualified businesses are adopted from previous WHA eligibility requirements, with a slight tweak added to specify that a business without an RMOW-issued licence is not eligible, a change that appears to be aimed at curbing the effects of Whistler’s growing remote workforce.

“These changes generally provide for a tightening of the eligibility to targeted employees working full-time for businesses located within the municipality and primarily serving the local economy,” the report stated.

If approved, the housing agreement would replace the existing one in place for Lot 1, which was authorized in April as a requirement to discharge a no-build covenant on the Phase 2 lands, and to enable construction to begin.

Once fully developed, Cheakamus Phase 2 will add about 295 units of employee housing, not including 18 market lots.

Meanwhile, the RMOW just launched a housing survey to gain insight into how local homes and residential suites are being used by full-time and temporary residents, visitors and second homeowners.

To participate, property owners will receive a postcard in the mail with a unique PIN code to access the survey online, which runs until Dec. 5. All entrants will be eligible to win one of five $100 gift cards.

To learn more, visit

*A previous version of this story stated that a provision allowing WHA owners to transfer their property's title to a child before the owner's death was a new addition to the housing agreement, which was based on discussion among elected officials at Tuesday's council meeting. As it turns out, the provision is not new and has been in place for several years.