Living the housing dream 

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Included in the Cheakamus Crossing plans are the provision of the first WHA apartment building, which will support renters and their needs as well as the positive act of integrating universally accessible design to support our aging citizens and those with varied disabilities in market and resident-restricted housing. Whistler’s other new subdivision, Rainbow is back on track and plans to deliver its first duplex housing to market by the end of next summer.

As Tootie roller-skates by, braces flashing I can hear the jingle in my head: “You take the good, you take the bad, you take the rest and there you have the facts of life.”

There are a number of short-term factors which could whip up a perfect storm on the housing front up to and including 2010. Whistler is no longer simply a winter town, our employment season is four seasons and more workers are staying in town year-round. Factor into that Whistler landlords potentially turfing long-term tenants to try and cash in on perceived 2010 gold and one has to ask the question: “If the world’s coming to Whistler in 2010, where are the people who serve the world going to live?”

With the exception of Vail, just about every other U.S. and Canadian resort has a real problem with employee housing and generally the result is soul-sucking leakage to nearby towns as employees choose, or are forced to reside elsewhere. Connected issues like increased greenhouse gas emissions from increased commuting, costly investments in corridor-wide public transit and increased stress on families who work in a different community than where they live compound the negative effects of this trend.

Not only is the provision of resident housing good for employees, it is good for employers. In the August 2007 Whistler Housing Authority Employer Housing Needs Assessment, approximately two-thirds of employers (68 per cent) feel it is very important to their business for their employees to have the opportunity to purchase or rent homes directly in Whistler. A further 21 per cent of employers think it is somewhat important, while only 11 per cent feel it is not important at all.

If a temporary housing project is what we need to bridge the gap between now and 2010, then so be it. But any real crisis has been averted through many years of hard work, innovation and a few lumps over resale formulae and other growing pains. But those growing pains allow Whistler to grow by keeping our committed citizens here, allowing friends and families to live, work and play in the town we all love. Crisis, what crisis? Welcome to Whistler, hope you stay. We've making more room.

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