The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is working on a housing initiative that could see the inventory of resident housing opportunities expand with little cost to the community. It’s called infill housing and the Alpine South neighborhood could be site of a pilot project to see if the initiative will work in Whistler.
Infill housing is the insertion of additional housing units into an already approved subdivision or neighborhood. This type of housing refers to everything from additional units built on the same lot, adding multiple units to an existing home, to lot subdivisions. In Whistler, initiatives such as infill housing are one of many that help the community continue to the reach the Whistler 2020 goal of housing 75% of our workforce locally.
"Infill housing starts with what is established and creates complete neighbourhoods," said Mayor Ken Melamed. "We really want to marry the affordable housing opportunities with smart growth principles. We're not talking about building inexpensive housing out on the periphery. Infill Housing builds on what many homeowners are already doing in Whistler.”
The RMOW infill housing strategy for Alpine South includes three options for homeowners. These scenarios include a Lot Split in which an owner can sell off a minimum 400 square metre parcel of their property. This newly created lot would need to be registered as employee housing.
A homeowner can also choose to build a stratified duplex in which one of the units is earmarked as employee housing. The third option includes multiple suites in which a homeowner is permitted to build two auxiliary suites on their property if one is within the principle dwelling.
Of course any of these options must be designed to fit within existing neighbourhood land use patterns and architectural characteristics. The benefits of an Alpine infill housing project are many - housing can increase the diversity and availability of resident restricted housing, and allow owners of market real estate to realize some of the value of their property without selling and leaving the community.
How will the purchasing and selling of lot splits or duplex units work with the employee housing restriction? The original sale of the newly created duplex or lot split would not be price-restricted. Instead, the price would be negotiated between the seller and purchaser. The units would however be offered for sale with priority to Whistler Housing Authority waitlist applicants. Once the first sale is complete, that price becomes the base price. Resale price appreciation would be tied to the Core Consumer Price Index as per the current WHA policy for restricted housing.
Community consultation played a large role in the creation of this infill housing strategy. Since 2004 various forms of community engagement and consultation helped to create the foundation for this infill housing strategy. Initially, a community based Non-Cost Housing Task Force worked with staff to develop recommendations for project goals, zoning parameters, design guidelines, and price and occupancy restrictions. Approximately 100 members of the public then participated in two open houses to consider these initial recommendations and review hypothetical infill housing working examples.