housing society 

The Whistler Valley Housing Society wants to concentrate on providing affordable rental housing and outlined a concept for building rental housing using the municipality’s $6 million housing fund during a meeting with councillors last week. "It was a positive, cordial, informal meeting where we basically explained our position and presented a hypothetical business plan about how we could build rental housing," said Drew Stotesbury, president of the housing society. The housing society has expressed a desire to return to its original mandate of providing rental accommodation and frustration with additional roles previous councils had asked of the society on some housing projects. "The Whistler Valley Housing Society feels it should help produce rental housing," Stotesbury said. "Our position is that the RMOW, with the ability to rezone land... and through developers, they can probably produce more affordable housing (for sale to individuals). "The money doesn’t need to be used to subsidize ownership (affordable) housing," Stotesbury said. "The money came from developments that created front-line seasonal employees, so it should be used to house those people." The chamber of commerce has written a letter to council endorsing the use of the housing fund for creating rental housing. The municipality received 12 proposals for affordable housing developments after a proposal call which closed in November. Many of the proposals are for townhouses or single family lots which would be for sale to residents. Municipal staff is evaluating those proposals now and is expected to present a report to council Monday or at the following council meeting on Feb. 3. Mayor Hugh O’Reilly said he didn’t think the housing society’s concept for affordable rental housing was out of line with the municipality’s call for affordable housing proposals. "In the proposal call we said we’d give priority to rental housing... but the call deals primarily with people who have land," O’Reilly said. The housing society envisions using the housing fund to secure land, which could then be used as equity to build rental housing. However, the society also needs some bed units to build housing and assistance from municipal staff. The housing society’s membership soared in the last year with people joining so they could be eligible for lotteries for the Millar’s Ridge and Barnfield Farm housing projects, both of which were ownership projects. Stotesbury said he didn’t believe the housing society was disenfranchising those people who joined the society hoping for the opportunity to buy housing, saying private developers should be able to address that sector of the affordable housing problem.

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