New task force to tackle seniors housing 

Spurred on by the success of the recent non-cost initiatives housing task force, council is creating another small focus group to examine seniors housing in the resort.

And the Mature Action Committee, a group of older local citizens who have been lobbying for seniors housing for the past decade, is very excited about the prospect.

"MAC is really enthused about it," said MAC President Gord Leidal, who is applying for a place on the task force.

"We would hope for some positive results to come out of it."

In addition to the success of the last housing task force, the creation of a senior’s task force has also been spurred on in part by the recent MAC annual general meeting.

At that meeting MAC members discussed the difficulties in finding a suitable piece of land to develop seniors housing. Their major hurdle over the past 10 years has been the price of the land. All of their discussions with the municipality in the past decade have failed to find a solution and a definite site where they can build their housing. Now many members feel they are running out of time to realize their dream of "aging in place" especially as they watch long-time community members move to seniors housing in the city.

Leidal says the task force is a "promising development."

It will give MAC members and other community members the chance to explore new ideas and firm up what seniors’ needs are in the community.

In his letter of request to council calling for a senior’s task force, Whistler Housing Authority General Manager Tim Wake wrote:

"The purpose of a Seniors Housing Task Force would be to define and quantify the need, form and character for seniors housing in Whistler. A second objective would be to establish a framework for determining site criteria and financing options."

Originally seniors housing was to be the topic of one of the WHA Housing Forums, a series of forums exploring housing initiatives. But Wake said a focused task force might be more beneficial at this point in time.

The WHA will facilitate the task force and Councillor Marianne Wade will chair the group, which will be made up of about 12 community members.

Just like the non-cost housing task force, it will be an interactive process over time.

Over the course of four weeks the non-cost housing initiatives task force came up with a series of recommendations aimed at encouraging property owners to create or retain more resident housing on their properties.

Their recommendations included several bylaw and policy changes, which were presented to the public in an open house earlier this month.

The senior’s task force will meet roughly four times between late April and late May, with a goal of reporting back to council in early June.

Community members who are interested in sitting on the task force and are able to go to the meetings should apply at the WHA by Friday, April 11. Council will select the task force at the Tuesday, April 22 meeting.

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