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WVHS cuts the ribbon on new rental housing

New rental housing with 30 units is almost already full, a week after opening

The Whistler Valley Housing Society (WVHS) officially cut the ribbon on its new rental property in Cheakamus Crossing last week.

The Nest—previously known as 1400 Mount Fee Road—is home to 30 units and (almost) 30 tenants as of move-in in early July.

Speaking over the sound of construction just up the road, WVHS board member and Whistler Councillor Cathy Jewett listed off the people and organizations that made the new build possible, and timely.

“This is a day where we celebrate the many people that worked together to make this project possible,” she said before a small crowd of board members, workers associated with the project, and Whistler councillors.

Of the history of the WVHS, Jewett talked about how it pre-dated the Whistler Housing Authority in efforts to provide rental accommodation for the workers that kept the community going, and revealed the WVHS' first (and until now, only) build, 2178 Sarajevo Drive, would be renamed to honour one of the first WVHS board members, Garry Watson.

Speaking to Pique, Jewett also spoke of the effort that went into The Nest, such as the negotiations in changing the housing agreement to allow tenants of Sarajevo Drive to move there if they wanted to—one did—and the opportunity a vacancy gave the WVHS.

“Right now it's a 40-year-old building; we’ve had very long-term tenants in those buildings so they need some love," she said. "It’s given us a great opportunity to update one of those three-bedroom units, so that will be coming out on the market in a month.”

Focused on The Nest, Jewett noted how fast it filled up.

“[WVHS had an] occupancy permit Wednesday morning, Friday afternoon was the first tenants moving in, by Sunday it was 90-per-cent tenanted with people moved in," she said.

“It speaks to how much we need housing like this.”

She also spoke about the barriers non-profits face trying to provide secure and affordable housing, noting a GST exemption on rental builds announced last year didn't apply to the WVHS project because it was too far along when the exemption was announced, despite their best attempts to secure it.

The GST price tag on the WVHS project ended up being $720,000—which if they had managed to have waived, could have cut up to $400 a month from units rented to social service providers.

Despite the challenges, the WVHS and the Whistler 2020 Development Corp—which built the project—managed to have The Nest go from breaking ground to occupancy in 14 months, on time and on budget.

Attendees of the July 5 ribbon-cutting were also given a tour of the new building, with board members showing off the quality of the build, explaining decisions made in design in keeping building costs and amenities affordable and accessible.