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OPINION: Rejecting affordable housing for families unacceptable

How many of our local professionals starting the next chapters of their lives are moving further afield every year?
Wedgewoods whistler Screen Shot 2020-09-13 at 8.10.11 PM
File photo

(LETTER TO THE EDITOR) 

As young professionals that have lived in Whistler for over a decade, and are on the verge of starting a family, we find our choices for secure housing rather slim. Slim on rentals and slim on purchasing options. 

We weren’t of the means to buy a property of our own before the market went into overdrive (pre-2015), and have watched what little choices we had tossed out of the window along the way since. 

Whistler Housing Authority (WHA) is somewhat of an option if you’re in the top 100 people; otherwise, you could be waiting for years to find an affordable place to call your own. 

So what about everyone else that has set roots into this area?

This is why we were so shocked to see our local councillors on the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) board reject the recently proposed WedgeWoods West affordable housing development. The project didn’t even get a chance to offer solutions for the issues that were raised. It was simply rejected at first reading. 

We watched the meeting online and were frankly astounded at some of the reasons as to why this project was rejected: Added congestion, lack of walkability, the question of zero-emission buildings, even a question of liability to the SLRD for the developer offering 300 acres of land, for free. 

This project could house 52 families. Where do you think they will have to go to find suitable housing for starting or continuing families? Likely further afield, and have to drive more and add more “congestion” for a greater distance, or leave the area all together. 

The corridor knows it needs affordable housing, which is why it seems crazy that an option for it was delivered to them on a platter! Where else will a municipality find a developer willing to gift the land portion of a development to provide housing at only the build cost? Land is a huge component to cost in any development, so this sounds like a no-brainer. 

Sure, there are some tweaks that will need to happen in terms of pedestrians on or near the highway, but that is what second and third readings are for.

Here you have a developer willing to build apartments and townhomes at $315 per square foot final purchase price (which, by the way, is less than the latest two-bed-plus-den sale with the WHA), within six minutes of a shopping hub at Rainbow, that could provide security for 52 local families at an affordable price. 

How many of our local professionals starting the next chapters of their lives are moving further afield every year?

Here is an option—presented on an affordable platter. 

We wonder how many of the councillors rejecting this project walk to their workplaces, have zero-emission houses or even had to pay half a million dollars for their first home? That’s what affordable is now... half a million dollars. And that still comes with caveats in the form of restrictive covenants and pricing control. 

We were excited to see the project move forward as a possible option for our future family. Why did you reject an affordable housing solution in our area, councillors, when the housing shortage is, and has been one of the biggest areas of concern for our area?

Richard and Lainey Grenfell // Whistler




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