Momentum gathering for seniors housing 

Two projects to be discussed at upcoming AGM

When Betty McWhinnie retired to Whistler in 1989 she imagined this would be the place where she would live the rest of her life.

That’s why in 1993 she joined the Mature Action Committee, a newly-formed community group lobbying for seniors housing so people could "age in place."

McWhinnie, who is now in her 80s, never imagined that 13 years later MAC would still be waiting for a seniors housing complex in Whistler.

"It’s just unbelievable," she said. "(It’s been) really frustrating. There was so many times when we had great hopes and then they were just shattered."

Now at least there is reason to hope again. Two seniors housing developments, which are in the works, will be discussed at MAC’s upcoming annual general meeting on Thursday, March 30.

The AGM will include presentations from the developers of the proposed Rainbow residential neighbourhood and The Holborn Group, who are hoping to redevelop the tennis club.

Both projects have been moving through the planning department at municipal hall for more than a year and have gone through many stumbling blocks. Despite the hurdles, seniors housing appears to be closer than ever before.

"I would say over the last two years we’ve had a lot of momentum," said MAC’s board of directors co-chair Gord Leidal who has been instrumental in lobbying elected officials for seniors housing over the years.

"We’ve come a long way and we’ve really had a lot of support both at the elected level and also from staff and the Whistler Housing Authority."

The Holborn proposal, which includes a large market townhouse development, could see 20 to 24 units for seniors. Like employee housing, the seniors housing could be price restricted but with a range of price levels to reflect different finishes within the units.

The new Rainbow neighbourhood, which includes more than 300 units of employee housing, could see 40 units for seniors, again with price restrictions.

The MAC AGM will also include a seniors housing design workshop where people can talk about what they would like to see in future housing projects.

Seniors are looking for things such as covered or underground parking as well as common space for socializing.

The meeting will take place on Thursday, March 30 at MY Millennium Place. The AGM runs from 6:45 to 7:15 p.m., followed by the housing design workshop from 7:30 to 9:45 p.m. All MAC members, future members and anyone interested in senior’s housing developments are welcome to attend.

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