Seniors anxious for decision on housing 

For the past 15 years Eileen and Gordon Tomalty have been calling Whistler their home.

Even though they arrived here later in life, Whistler has been the place where they have found close friends and developed strong ties within the community.

It has been the place where they have volunteered their time and energy and have subsequently become familiar faces around town. Eileen was voted Whistler Citizen of the Year last year and Gordon served on municipal council in the early ’90s.

The Tomaltys would be loath to leave this transient resort town to begin a new life elsewhere. But they may not have a choice.

They are now in their 70s, facing certain health problems and Whistler does not offer them the choice of moving into a centralized retirement community.

To this end, the couple, along with other dedicated residents, has devoted hours to Whistler's Mature Action Committee (MAC) – an organization that has been the driving force behind bringing a retirement community to Whistler.

"This new idea of aging is that you age in place," said Eileen Tomalty.

Since its inception in 1993 the Tomaltys have been involved with MAC and have been working with other community residents to develop a seniors housing complex within the municipality. They want to ensure Whistler residents will have a place to go when they get older.

After eight years of talking and dreaming about a retirement community, MAC members now believe they have reached a crucial point in determining their future.

The time for talking is over, according to current MAC chair Gordon Leidal.

"There is a sense of urgency at this point," he said. "There are not many suitable locations and if we don't move quickly there won't be any."

Leidal has been instrumental in lobbying councillors, trying to convince them that seniors’ needs must be addressed and can no longer stay on the back burner.

In a recent meeting with Mayor Hugh O'Reilly, MAC members were assured that seniors are an integral part of Whistler and addressing their needs is compatible with Whistler's Vision 2002.

"Seniors build and strengthen the fabric of the community," said O'Reilly. "We're seeing more and more people of retirement age staying in the community and we're trying to accommodate the people who have made a contribution to the community."

O'Reilly believes there will be a unanimous endorsement by council in the upcoming weeks, recognizing the need for seniors housing. If this happens, seniors housing will be considered the same as resident or employee housing and will therefore be exempt from the municipal bed unit cap.


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