No fast solution for MAC housing 

As Whistler’s population begins to get a little older, there is a growing concern about finding a niche for the seniors in the community.

"Up until the 1990s, if you couldn’t ski anymore, you moved down to Vancouver," said Tim Wake, general manager of the Whistler Housing Authority.

This has been slowly changing as more seniors decide that they want to live out their years in the mountains they call home.

Whistler’s unique problem is that it has never had many seniors living here.

In fact, there was barely a community here before Whistler became a world class resort.

"Most resorts were a community before they became a resort," said Wake.

"We’re a community that’s 30-years-old. We’ve had very few seniors."

Wake will be speaking to the Mature Action Committee annual general meeting on Monday, Feb. 24 at Millennium Place.

"I would just like to share with them the way some other resort communities have approached seniors housing," he said.

Specifically, Wake will talk about seniors housing in Banff and how that community has tackled their seniors housing needs.

MAC has been around for the past 10 years with a goal of creating a housing complex so Whistler seniors can "age in place."

During that time as land deals have fallen through, among other setbacks, many of the original MAC members have left the community and settled in seniors homes elsewhere. Two of the founding members, Eileen and Gordon Tomalty, recently bought a home in a seniors complex in North Vancouver because they are desperate to get into a safe and secure environment which has ready access to care.

Wake, like many others in the community, recognizes the need to have seniors as part of Whistler in order to make this a complete community.

"They’re a tremendous resource," he said, adding that they provide valuable insight and perspective.

The difficulty in Whistler is that seniors housing presents the same types of challenges as employee resident housing.

"It’s similar to employee housing in that there are a lot of hurdles to get over."

Some of those hurdles include the cost of land, building costs, transportation challenges and the approval process.

Despite the challenges Wake will be encouraging MAC members to stick with their goal of seeing a seniors complex in Whistler in the near future.

MAC has set out certain requirements for those seniors looking to be a part of a seniors housing complex in Whistler.

In order to qualify for any seniors housing established by MAC, seniors must be at least 55-years-old and a member of MAC for two years. In order to move into a Whistler complex, prospective occupants must have lived in Whistler as their principal residence for a minimum of five consecutive years.

All MAC members, potential MAC members and the public are welcome to attend the annual general meeting.

The MAC AGM will be held in Millennium Place on Monday, Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. In addition to the presentation from Wake, Bob MacPherson, the general manager of planning and development services at the RMOW will also give a presentation about seniors housing opportunities in Whistler.

Stuart Thomas, from Terra Housing in Vancouver, is the third speaker. He will be talking about implementation and financial strategies.

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