Housing board grows with fresh faces 

Two new members both employee housing residents

"I hope that my impact would be able to tweak things to make it a little better." Jon Decaigny
  • "I hope that my impact would be able to tweak things to make it a little
    better." Jon Decaigny

Two new faces join the board of the Whistler Housing Authority next month.

The change comes at a critical time for the organization as the waitlist for employee housing sits at more than 500 applications – higher than it’s ever been before. At the same time several major housing projects, not the least of which are the new Rainbow subdivision and the 2010 Olympics athletes’ village, are on the horizon.

The first new face replaces the familiar figure of Duane Jackson, the Community-At-Large director for the past two and a half years.

On Monday the board chose Jon Decaigny as Jackson’s replacement, the youngest of the five applicants who put their name forward for the job.

The WHA’s General Manager, Marla Zucht, said Decaigny was chosen not only because of his financial expertise and analytical skills – Decaigny is a Royal Bank accounts manager – but also because of his direct knowledge of housing challenges for Whistler residents.

"He does so many of our mortgage pre-approvals for applicants that are getting on the waitlist," said Zucht. "He’s really knowledgeable about the WHA policies and some of the challenges and he lives in resident housing himself so he’ll be a really good representative."

Decaigny said he put his name forward because he had some concerns about employee housing policies.

"I think WHA is a great organization and… I hope that my impact would be able to tweak things to make it a little better," he said this week.

"I’m hoping I can do something more than just sit around and gripe about it."

When told he was the youngest applicant at 29 years old, he said: "I’m glad that they can look past age and see me for the skills I possess… I think youth on a board like that is probably a good thing. I think I represent the typical person here that’s trying to buy."

The board also decided to create a new position this year in response to criticisms from the community that it was out of touch with employee housing residents.

The WHA advertised a position for a Resident Housing director who can speak to those concerns. This is a non-voting position for someone who lives in employee housing and boosts the eight member board to nine.

Three names were put forward and the community chose Grant Cousar for the role by voting online or faxing in ballots.

Cousar lives in the Bear Ridge development and used to live in 19 Mile Creek.

"He definitely has the resident housing experience so he’ll be providing that insight and feedback from that resident housing perspective," said Zucht.

Cousar said he put his name forward because he thought the WHA needed a fresh perspective.

"The current members that are there have sent us in a great direction and they have a great footprint of where this is all supposed to go but not necessarily being resident homeowners themselves they’ve maybe lost touch a little bit of what exactly success in affordable housing really is," said Cousar.

Cousar and his wife started Whistler Cooks six year ago. He is a director on the Slow Food convivium and has been a director with the Whistler Farmer’s Market.

Decaigny and Cousar are excited to get to work at the WHA.

Their first board meeting takes place July 10.

Cousar said: "I think I’ve got lots of summer reading!"

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