Alta states 

From squat to Akasha – Life with the Munsters

click to enlarge Past and Present Andy Munster stands in the doorway of his Fitzsimmons squat. Quite a difference standing with his wife Bonnie almost thirty years later in Akasha
  • Past and Present Andy Munster stands in the doorway of his Fitzsimmons squat. Quite a difference standing with his wife Bonnie almost thirty years later in Akasha

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Mention Akasha to anyone familiar with the building game and the reaction is invariably the same. Great vision, beautifully-designed, organic-feeling, quality all the way: you name the superlative, it’s been used to describe this groundbreaking Whistler home. When it sold in the year 2000 — for what was then a shocking $7.9 million — the 5,000+ square-foot home was the most expensive house in Canada. And the Munsters admit they still take grief from their friends over it.

But Bonnie makes no apology for its sumptuousness. “All we wanted to do was build well,” she argues. “At the time, there was nothing of that quality being built in Whistler. And we’ve always believed, Andy and I, that a community should be comprised of all segments of society, young and old — rich people included.”

Still, they both concede that their vision has changed considerably since 2000. “More than ever, we’re committed to building high-quality homes,” she says. “Only now we’re looking to design smaller places, providing alternative means of power — wind and solar for example. We’ve become even more sensitive about what we put in the ground now…”

Which brings us round to Whistler. “This is our community,” says Bonnie, who fought some epic battles on its behalf during her 13-year stint on municipal committees and on school board. “We’re committed to this place. Still…” She pauses. “The politics, the attitude — Whistler is not the same anymore. Something’s been lost.”

Andy is more blunt. “We’re paving over paradise,” he says. And then he sighs. “The ‘Whistler Experience’ is becoming way too industrial. And I believe our community is falling apart because of it. We’re losing our seniors, can’t find homes here for our grown-up kids…” Another pause. “You know, I truly love this place. But I really fear for its future…”

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