editorial 

Opening remarks On Monday the Whistler Valley Housing Society is scheduled to present a report to council on Whistler's affordable housing situation. The report is expected to outline several options and recommend a course of action to start building affordable housing this spring. With approximately $2 million in a bank account and new provincial legislation that allows specific zoning for affordable housing — doing away with the cumbersome lease and covenant system that made financing for prospective buyers difficult — the housing society should be ready to act. But it's not as easy as that; $2 million won't build many housing units — if that is the best way to spend the money, and not many think it is. Finding land to build on is the first step. The provincial government has made it clear in the past that it will only sell Crown land at market value. There are a number of private landowners who have land which might be suitable for affordable housing, but there has to be some incentive for them. In the past that has usually meant exchanging zoning for land. As the freestyle proposal pointed out, such a deal would have to be seen to be clearly beneficial to Whistler before it receives wholesale community support. Once land is acquired there is the cost of building affordable housing. In the past that has involved a partner from the private sector. Intrawest's Millar's Pond is the most likely area for affordable housing to be built this summer, since the land is already zoned and affordable housing has been part of the project from the start. But prospects for additional affordable housing are not readily apparent. Part of a long-term solution may be to increase access to places like Rainbow and Function Junction, so that housing in such sites becomes practical. Co-operation from land-owners, builders, suppliers and financiers is also required. In short community support is needed for community housing. – Bob Barnett

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