Whistler has done things very well on housing. Whistler has done things wrong on housing.
The things we have done well.. we have done very well. There is a temptation to blame the Whistler Housing Authority or the Whistler Development Corp for our challenges. That is a mistake. These are the organizations that made Whistler a place that houses 76% of our workforce (vs 8% in Aspen and 35% in Vail). The WHA and the WDC are the keys to the successes we have had and they are the keys to the catch up we need to do.
Our biggest mistake was believing we had “solved housing” in 2009. We stopped building and that has set us back. It is time for catch up.
I have spent this summer studying Whistler housing. I have spoken to the founders of our community. I have spoken to the founders of the WHA and the board of the WDC. I have taken what I know from my years serving on the WHA and the WDC to come up with the few things I think are important moving forward. Ultimately, I am convinced the answer to not enough housing is to “build more housing”. We have the tools (WHA/WDC), it is time to use them. It really isn’t a lack of big ideas, it is a lack of action. It is time for shovels in the ground.
- Reconsitute an independent Whistler Development Corporation with fiduciary responsibility. The structure of the WDC has been critical to our success… private sector volunteer experience is cheaper and better equipped to deliver housing for the RMOW. We don’t need to build a development function inside municipal hall.
- Shovels in the ground on next phase of Cheakamus Crossing. Key to our success moving forward.
- Work with Vail to get village based dormitory housing. Good for Vail, good for Whistler… time to move.
- Deliver a 30-year housing plan that keeps Whistler committed to and engaged in resident housing for the long term.
- Deliver on the recommendations of the Mayors Task Force on Resident Housing. The planning exercise we have been engaged in has given us good direction. It’s time to apply that direction, aggressively.
- Review and improve WHA policy to deliver housing that better meets the needs of our community. Our housing policy is great but it can always be improved.
- Stay informed on tourism technology. Home sharing is a very important reality to consider but its not all there is. Whistler needs to be fanatical in our commitment to understanding how our tourist accommodation is being used and how technology is changing use.