Employee housing GM to run for council seat 

Tim Wake resigns his position at the Whistler Housing Authority

One of Whistler’s biggest employee housing advocates, Tim Wake, wants to continue advocating as a member of Whistler’s municipal council.

Effective Sept. 6 Wake is resigning as general manager of the Whistler Housing Authority and officially hitting the campaign trail for November’s municipal election.

"I really hope that by getting on council I can help put some of our housing ideas into housing actions," said Wake. "There needs to be a sense of urgency on the part of council to drive the delivery of these things."

More than perhaps anyone else in Whistler, Wake has watched the demand for employee housing grow over his eight years at the Whistler Housing Authority. The waitlist for purchase housing topped 500 individual applications earlier this year. And every week two or three more people are being added to the list.

"The stream of new people onto the list has been steady for the last year," said Wake. "It just hasn’t let up."

And yet no resident-restricted housing projects have been delivered in more than two years.

The most recently completed employee housing project was the last phase of Spring Creek housing in 2003. The following year there were no new projects. And though the housing units associated with the Nita Lake Lodge and the newly approved Function Junction units are on the horizon, they most likely will not see people moving in until 2006.

"We need to maintain a diligence of moving forward," said Wake. "We need to be engaging our community in our decision-making and we need to be making decisions."

It has been frustrating he added.

Wake joined the WHA when it was first formed in October 1997. He helped build the organization, which was mandated to find housing opportunities, from scratch. He worked first as the housing administrator and then moved in to the general manager’s position.

Over the past eight years, some 2,000 employee housing beds have been delivered. But more could have been done, said Wake.

"We’re doing great work but we’re constantly second guessing what we’re doing and we’re not moving forward as quickly as we could be because we’re worried we’ll do the wrong thing," said Wake. "I’m frustrated because we’re not grappling with the roadblocks, we’re not pushing. It’s that sense of urgency, I just don’t feel it. It’s there in the talk, it’s not there in the action."

And the changing market conditions are exacerbating the situation. Wake explained where once developers were pushing employee housing projects forward as part of the development deals, that’s not happening any more. There is no profit motive from the market side, he said.

"When you don’t have the profit-driven developer, you need to replace that incentive with something else," he said. "And my thought is you need council saying ‘we want this.’ You need the political motivation."

In addition to running for council, Wake is also starting his own consultancy business.

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