Barnfield owner challenges WHA change 

RMOW continues to prepare for litigation

Employee housing owners concerned about the latest change to the appreciation formula have found support in some of the owners at Barnfield Farm.

Several Barnfield owners, who are part of an ongoing lawsuit against the municipality, attended last Wednesday’s employee housing forum, which was called as a result of the backlash to imposing a new modest appreciation formula on existing projects.

In an emotional letter read out by fellow Barnfield owner Scott Patterson, Laurence Perry delivered a scathing commentary on the Whistler Housing Authority and what he called its "high handed pressure tactics."

"The various and latest attempts to change owner contracts is illegal, high handed, rude and just plain wrong," wrote Perry. "This is why we at Barnfield Farm are in a legal situation with this administration."

The letter drew loud applause at the meeting where there was standing room only with roughly 200 community members.

Mayor Ken Melamed said at the meeting that he could not address the issues raised in Perry’s letter because of the ongoing lawsuit.

Resort Municipality of Whistler spokesperson Diana Waltmann said this week there are no changes since their petition was filed in November.

"We’re continuing to prepare for litigation," she said.

Twenty-four Barnfield Farm owners are named in a petition that challenges the price restriction covenants on their homes.

Together they represent 16 homes in the 23-lot employee housing neighbourhood.

Perry’s letter for the first time reveals publicly the toll the lawsuit has taken on owners.

"My life and financial life is in turmoil as a direct result of my status in this type of housing market," said Perry. "I’m awake at nights thinking about my situation. I think about this problem at work."

The Barnfield covenants outline how the resale price of the homes is restricted to a maximum price. That price increases according to a modest appreciation formula. It will be up to the courts to decide on the interpretation of those covenants.

At the time the petition was filed the municipality said it would defend its employee housing covenants in the courts.

The WHA has also defended its latest change to the appreciation formula which effects three projects – 19 Mile Creek, Beaver Flats duplexes and Bear Ridge. Those projects have been escalating quickly in recent years because they are tied to the Lower Mainland housing market. With the change those projects will be tied to a different appreciation formula that increases modestly over time. That new formula will only apply upon resale of the units.

The WHA and the RMOW believe this change will ensure the units stay affordable for future generations and not just the ones who got in first.

That change has raised the ire of several owners who worry, not only about the ramifications of the change but also about the fact the WHA has changed the so-called rules of the game on them.

This is where Perry draws commonalities with the Barnfield plight.

"I believe in the idea of social subsidized Whistler housing, however I will not be part of this current trend towards retro social engineering," he said.

"How dare you use me and my home as a type of game for social experiment and curiosity? I and all other owners have contracts and they shall not be denied or just arbitrarily put aside."

Perry’s letter set the tone for an emotional meeting.

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