Second homeowners want voices heard in election 

Part-time residents share many concerns with full-time residents

Alan Macey's family has had a home in Alta Vista for about 45 years - one of the originals.

Phil Scott has owned a townhouse unit across from the Westin hotel since 1985.

And Sue Chappel has been an owner of a Phase 1 condo, which means she can rent it out nightly to guests when she's not using it, for almost 20 years.

Macey, Scott and Chappel are second homeowners. Though they may not live in Whistler full time, they are still deeply connected to the community, passionate about its success and they care about its future.

"We were committed to it by our parents," said Macey from his Tsawwassen home, "and we've committed our children to it and now our grandchildren. It's a place in perpetuity for us. Our passion and our understanding of Whistler is very deep."

It's no wonder then that each has concerns about November's election and they want their voices heard and their votes counted.

Chappel said second homeowners have many common concerns with full-time residents.

"All Whistler taxpayers are concerned about escalating costs of owning and doing business in Whistler," said Chappel, who owns an online property rental company. "They're concerned that those costs will be passed on to visitors and that is going to create yet another access barrier into the resort, and that hurts everybody."

At the same time, second homeowners aren't really represented as a group.

"I suppose the biggest concern has been taxation without representation," said Scott, who lives in Whistler for about five months of the year, generally throughout the ski season, before returning to his condo in Vancouver or his home in Nelson for the summer.

"We've always felt that there's been an inequality, an unfair balance between what we pay in terms of taxes, which is significantly more than what we pay in Vancouver or Nelson, yet we get far fewer services."

He points to garbage pick-up as a small example.

Second homeowners, he said, take advantage of the services provided by municipal hall far less than residents - they aren't putting daily strain on the water system and the sewer system, there's less wear and tear on the roads and the Valley Trail because they aren't here year-round, they don't visit the sports complex as often.

That's not to say they're looking for a lower tax rate, just more financial accountability when it comes to spending taxpayers' money.

"I think that would complicate the system," said Macey. "The problem exists with the budget process at municipal hall.

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