Usually we don’t respond directly to letters to the editor, but the letter on the next page from Whistler Valley Housing Society Chair Max Kirkpatrick and Matthew Cote of Columbus Properties contains a few misleading statements that need to be addressed. Their letter is in response to G.D. Maxwell’s column last week on the numbers presented for the Millar’s Pond affordable housing project. That is all his column questioned. Neither Maxwell nor Pique sought "flaws in an otherwise exciting and much needed affordable housing project." For nearly seven years I have written stories and columns in favour of more affordable housing in Whistler. I live in an employee housing project, and it’s only because such projects are available that I — and many others — still live in Whistler. Maxwell also supports employee housing; it’s only the idea that the Millar’s Pond units will be a better investment than GICs, bonds and T-bills that he finds fault with. The scope of his concerns was laid out quite early in the column when he wrote "...let me make one thing clear. If you’re lucky enough to have your name drawn in the Feb. 28th lottery, your decision to buy or not buy one of the townhouses should be driven by your desire to own a place to live. It should not be driven by the lure of financial gain..." Kirkpatrick and Cote write that "...the attraction of this project is the fact that it is affordable housing — not it’s investment value. And neither the Columbus Group or the Whistler Valley Housing Society have ever emphasized the latter." That’s not what the story on page 7 of the Feb. 1 Whistler Question would lead one to believe. The lead paragraph in the story says in part "...the developer says the project still offers a much higher return on your cash than a regular bank investment." Cote is quoted in the story as saying "The cap rate allows it to outperform other bank investments." The investment value is probably irrelevant to most people interested in buying one of the Millar’s Pond units. The opportunity to purchase a place in Whistler at an affordable price is what they are after. Maxwell made this point in his conclusion when he wrote: "So win the lottery, buy the townhouse but do it because you want a place to live, not because you want to be Donald Trump. That’s what affordable housing should be about anyway, not a way to make a killing in real estate." One final point in the letter deserves clarification: the statement that "...Mr. Maxwell and Pique did not avail themselves of opportunities that were extended to them to discuss Mr. Maxwell’s concerns... prior to printing." This is simply untrue. Attempts were made prior to publication and attempts have been made since publication. The Millar’s Pond project is desperately need and it will provide affordable housing for Whistlerites for many years. It’s just that for the foreseeable future it will not provide a better rate of return than bank investments.

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