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Letter to the Editor: Time for Whistler to get creative on housing solutions

'Here we are; a family with children, a Whistler Health Care Centre worker and responsible tenant who have lived and loved in Whistler for decades, being displaced during a raging pandemic'
housing
"The backbone of this community doesn’t have the housing security needed to uphold the Chamber of Commerce’s desired goals," writes a longterm Whistler, B.C. local recently served with a Notice to End Tenancy. | Getty Images

Everybody knows about the Spirit Pass—for nearly 30 years, Whistler Blackcomb has offered a reduced-rate season pass called the Spirit Pass, sold in conjunction with the Whistler Chamber of Commerce. All registered businesses and employees must qualify for the Spirit Pass by attending the Whistler Experience training sessions. The suite of training courses aims to empower every frontline worker to create outstanding service experiences and to uphold Whistler’s reputation.

My family currently rents a two-bedroom suite situated in the lower portion of a visually stunning six-bedroom estate home in Whistler. Last year when the property was sold to out-of-town buyers, our housing security was at risk and our nerves ran high with the possibility that the tenancy may not be continued. We were relieved and grateful to learn that the new owners wanted to continue the tenancy agreement.

This week (Jan. 8, 2022), two months into our renewed tenancy agreement, we received a Notice to End Tenancy with the reason supplied that the landlord’s adult child just sold their condo in Vancouver and wants to find a job in Whistler, so naturally they offered their child the rental suite.

So here we are; a family with children, a Whistler Health Care Centre worker and responsible tenant who have lived and loved in Whistler for decades, being displaced during a raging pandemic so that a wealthy, in-Whistler-on-weekends-only family can enclose themselves in their fortress at the expense of the actual people this town relies upon to create outstanding experiences and uphold Whistler’s good reputation. We will dispute the Notice to End Tenancy, but our relocation is inevitable.

However, it does have me thinking (in an election year) that this is EXACTLY the type of scenario the critically-needed and hard- working renters of Whistler have constantly endured—to which past and present municipal legislators and local power-elite (realtors) are wholly complicit in. Is it any wonder why outstanding service experiences in Whistler have plummeted? Is it any wonder why Whistler’s reputation as a place that cares for employees is shattered? The backbone of this community doesn’t have the housing security needed to uphold the Chamber of Commerce’s desired goals. A local resident of Whistler said something on social media earlier this week that really stood out to me: “Whistler doesn’t owe you a home, just because you are gracing us with your presence.” Wise words. 

So here is just one of many ideas that I invite mayor and council to consider ahead of October: A condition of sale for ANY property in Whistler should require that the buyer of the property must first complete a suite of training courses, in person, that will educate them about the perils that renters in this community face with regards to housing, and also train the proposed buyer on how to be a reputable, contributing member of our community.

This is the kind of “Spirit Pass” Whistler really needs.

Danny Mason // Whistler