Housing task force wants to measure results 

The municipality’s non-cost housing initiative task force wants some proof their recommendations to council on resident housing opportunities are not in vain.

They want to find a way of quantifying the number of future suites created or retained as a result of the recommendations they have been reviewing.

This would allow them to see if the recommendations had any effect in stopping the depletion of the resident housing stock in Whistler or not.

Task force member Shannon Byrne said it was a cop out to say that putting a measurable goal on the initiatives is too challenging.

"With any plan you have to make certain assumptions and you have to identify the opportunities and threats around the assumptions you’re making," she said at the Feb. 7 meeting, the third of four meetings to flesh out a list of non-cost housing initiatives developed by municipal staff and the Whistler Housing Authority.

The group proposed a goal of trying to increase suite construction to the 1998 level, when 47 suites were created. For the past three years that number has dropped to less than 20 annually, a dramatic downturn from the 75 suites per year that was the norm 10 years ago.

Still, speaking from his experience as the general manager of the Whistler Housing Authority, Tim Wake said it’s very hard to accurately crunch these kinds of numbers.

"The challenge of putting numbers around this is a huge one," said Wake.

"We can set an arbitrary number but it is going to be arbitrary."

For the past month the task force has been meeting once a week to exchange ideas about a series of non-cost initiatives intended to encourage the creation of more resident housing and to discourage the "leakage" or loss of affordable resident housing. They have also been coming up with some ideas of their own. They will be presenting their recommendations to council at the Monday, Feb. 17 meeting.

Among the suggestions debated at the last meeting was allowing the stratification of suites to keep some of the existing workforce homeowners in the community.

Stratification would allow homeowners to sell off a large portion of their homes at market value but keep a smaller portion of the house as a restricted suite.

In effect, this would allow locals to "cash out" and create capital from the sale of their home at the same time as providing them a place to stay in the community.

Chris Quinlan was a big proponent of this idea.

"It is immediate," he said.

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