Residents invited to provide feedback at November 2 Community Forum
Whistler’s Mayor’s Task Force on Resident Housing provided updates on task force activities, along with draft recommendations at the October 3 Council meeting. Watch the presentation online [Start video at 6:09 p.m.] or review the Council presentation at whistler.ca/housing. Residents will be invited to discuss and provide feedback on the recommendations at a Community Forum on November 2.
The task force, which includes a broad group of community representatives and partners, was formed last fall to explore and promote initiatives to support Whistler’s resident housing needs.
Since then, the task force has completed an in depth analysis of Whistler’s current housing situation and received community input through a survey of 2,276 people—over 20 per cent of the adult population living in Whistler. The Resort Municipality of Whistler has gifted lands to the Whistler Housing Authority and they have been constructing additional resident restricted housing in the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood, and Home Run program was launched to match property owners with business owners to accommodate their staff. A concurrent Tourist Accommodation Review resulted in recommendations and actions such as the implementation of a new business licence requirement for all a tourist accommodation, and more punitive penalties, to facilitate increased enforcement against nightly (illegal) rentals in residential areas.
Some key factors that have affected the increased demand for resident housing in Whistler include:
- Job creation to service the increased number of visitors—seasonal workforce growth adds pressure to the availability of homes for year-round workforce;
- A population increase of over 20 per cent in the last five years with more family households needing different housing types;
- Market housing price appreciation (over 71 per cent in the last 3 years) impacting affordability; and subsequently,
- Longer waitlists for Whistler Housing Authority resident restricted rental and ownership housing;
- Changes in utilization of Whistler’s housing supply, including renovations and demolitions where older homes are no longer available for rental to local residents, and increasing numbers of residential properties rented illegally for tourist accommodation—all of which decrease housing supply or displace renters.
Looking ahead, without a change in current housing policies, it will be very challenging to continue to meet Whistler’s resident housing target of housing 75 per cent of employees in Whistler. The task force’s primary objective for housing is to ensure appropriate and affordable housing supply for both permanent and seasonal staff, through the creation of flexible and diverse housing options.
Some in-progress initiatives that will continue to be supported include the Home Run program to match resort businesses with home owners, and updates to development cost charges to ensure that new construction developments that generate additional employees are appropriately contributing to provide new employee housing.
Four new recommendations, which residents and business owners will be invited to provide feedback on at the November 2 Community Forum include:
- Constructing additional resident restricted housing by the RMOW to meet the needs of the permanent resident workforce— planning for Cheakamus Crossing expansion with both rental and ownership opportunities, in addition to the already announced four new affordable rental buildings being developed by the Whistler Housing Authority;
- Implementing a new and expanded infill program to create up to 50 new employee homes in single family neighbourhoods;
- Allowing for development of resident restricted rentals on private lands;
- Further refining the resident restricted program for workforce use and to allow for more effective enforcement of the rules.
Implementation of these recommendations and in-progress initiatives represents an opportunity to deliver over 1,000 resident restricted beds within five years. In the shorter term, it is anticipated that 205 new beds will be available for the community by winter 2017, and a further 160 by winter 2018. Recognizing that there are ups and downs in economic cycles, there will be ongoing monitoring to determine the specific timing and phasing of new developments based on community needs.