editorial 248 

At the risk of boring people to tears, today’s topic is again employee housing — or at least it’s related to employee housing. Last week’s sermon attempted to make the point that people are less likely to become involved in or part of the community if they don’t think they will ever have a chance to put down roots in the community; i.e.. buy a home. The immediate consequence of not having enough affordable or employee housing is now becoming evident, but the long-term consequences may include a stagnant, ageing cadre of decision makers. Whistler’s year-round population is growing, but it would be interesting to see what percentage of those year-round employees remain for more than a year or two before deciding Whistler would be a nice place to live, but the price of housing makes it out of the question. It’s true a number of young families have moved to Whistler in the last year or two, now that a high school is being built, but a significant percentage of the permanent residents expected in the next few years are second homeowners. Many of those people will be looking to wind down careers and enjoy a quieter lifestyle, rather than get involved in a brand new, often frustrating, project like building a community. That’s not to say that retired people are bereft of fresh ideas and valuable experience. The point is a community grows by encouraging everyone to get involved, and creating permanent affordable housing is going to get young people involved in Whistler. In Park City, Utah, where approximately one-third of the residents have lived in the community less than three years, the town is exploring another way of getting people involved in decision making: a community leadership program. The 12-month course is designed to motivate and train new and emerging community leaders, individuals who have a desire to learn more about the challenges facing their community. Park City only instituted the leadership program last year but Public Affairs Director Myles Rademan believes it has encouraged people to take part in the decisions and affairs of the community. A similar initiative might work well in Whistler.

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