Employee housing waitlist over 500 

Building construction starts stalled

The waitlist for employee housing has now topped 530.

Every year another 100 people sign up in the hope of getting price-restricted housing.

With those numbers in mind it may be difficult to imagine that Whistler could ever catch up to the unrelenting demand, but Mayor Ken Melamed is optimistic that once the athletes village for the 2010 Winter Olympics is offered up for sale Whistler could meet its desperate employee housing needs.

"It’s a little bit hard to imagine that we would one day be able to say employee housing is not a problem in Whistler," said Melamed.

"When you look at the total number of units that could potentially be delivered… we may (be able to) achieve a balanced or a stable product mix for employee housing in the resort."

But the athletes village is still four and a half years away.

In the meantime hundreds of employee housing units are in the pipeline.

Negotiations continue between developers and municipal staff and some deals are close to being approved. In a best-case scenario, Whistler could have more than 300 new units of employee housing built in the valley in the next few years.

The worry, said the mayor, is that after all these projects are approved, the demand for housing will have dried up and there will be little take up on the athletes village.

"There’s the rub," said Melamed. "… And I would suggest that council is going to need a significant amount of input from the community before it moves away from permanent to the concept of a temporary village.

"The appetite to do all temporary is not there."

Whistler Housing Authority General Manager Marla Zucht said even with all of the new housing between now and the Olympics, there will still be a demand by the time the athletes village comes online in the spring/summer of 2010.

She recognizes that there are skeptics but if Whistler plans smart, efficient and most importantly, affordable housing, she is confident there will still be take up.

"I do believe there still will be demand," she said.

WHA numbers show that even with all the upcoming projects there will still be 126 people waiting on the list by 2010. And that doesn’t account for the new people signing up every week.

Along with those signing up to buy in for the first time there is about 20 per cent currently in employee housing looking to move into bigger accommodation or new neighbourhoods.

Here’s a snapshot of potential employee housing opportunities either approved or in the pipeline.


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