Middle-income home-ownership achieved in Whistler
Posted: Mar 14, 2012 8:56 PM PT
Last Updated: Mar 14, 2012 9:37 PM PT
Officials in one of B.C.’s most exclusive resort towns have found a way to make some housing more affordable for middle-income residents — a strategy that other communities are studying as a possible way to ease the home-ownership price crunch.
As reporter Lisa Johnson tell us in the third of our CBC News series in partnership with The Tyee, "Priced Out", hundreds of homes in Whistler, B.C., have been restricted to local ownership and also restricted in price.
Chris Hodkinson owns a two-bedroom townhouse just steps away from Blackcomb Mountain, the kind of residence avid skiers anywhere in the world would be happy to own and could expect to pay top-dollar for.
It’s a home that would have been nearly impossible for him to afford if he'd had to pay market rates.
"The ownership structure allows us to continue living and prospering in Whistler, not just surviving in Whistler," Hodkinson said. Hodkinson owns one of nearly 900 units in a unique program run by the Whistler Housing Authority. They range in size from studio condos to duplexes and single family homes.
Would-be owners have to be employed in Whistler to buy one.
Prices are allowed to increase only a certain amount per year, with the price of most units are tied the consumer price index, currently at about 2.5 per cent.
The bottom line: the two-bedroom townhouse that could be worth about $500,000 is sold for half that.
It's a strategy that's allowed local employees with moderate incomes to buy in, but they also don’t get cash in by capitalizing on real market values when it comes to selling their homes.Homes that might cost $500,000 have been bought for half that using Whistler's method.
"We live in a desirable place to live, whether it's in Vancouver or Whistler,” said Marla Zucht, General Manager of the housing authority.
“We really felt it necessary to cap the resale prices and limit that speculation because we just feel you can't build yourself out of the problem."
The program, launched 15 years ago, has been funded by contributions from commercial developers.
Hodkinson said it used to be that locals who wanted to own would look to nearby lower-profile and lower-market communities like Pemberton.
There are tradeoffs, such as foregoing the chance of striking it rich in real estate.
But they make other investments and still get a home in Whistler, surrounded by families who live and work there.
“It's crucial. It makes a neighbourhood a neighbourhood, it makes a town a town," said Hodkinson.
Could the Whistler model work in Vancouver? One is a mountain resort, the other a big city, but both share the problem of average incomes have not kept up with the price of homes.
Vancouver has put together a task force to look for solutions.
"We'll take the best of every component, whether it is the Whistler model or others that occur around the country and, frankly, around the world that we may be able to apply here," said Raymond Louie, Vancouver City Councillor and task force member.With files from the CBC's Lisa Johnson
Latest British Columbia News Headlines
- B.C. teacher duct-taped students' mouths
- The B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch has reprimanded a Vancouver teacher after she duct-taped her students' mouths in an effort to keep them quiet. more »
- Canadian border agents being impersonated in phone scam
- The Canada Border Services Agency is warning Canadians of a possible phone scam and fraud. more »
- Mask ban bill expected to become law today
- The bill that bans the wearing of masks or disguises during a riot or unlawful assembly is scheduled to become law today when it gets royal assent. more »
- Hundreds attend 'Change Brazil' protest in Vancouver
- Hundreds of Brazilians take to the street in Vancouver in a show of solidarity with a wave of anti-government protests in Brazil. more »
Top News Headlines
- Neil Macdonald: Washington's obsession with leakers
- Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are just the most prominent targets in an all-out legal and propaganda campaign that America's security apparatus is mounting against leakers everywhere, Neil Macdonald writes. more »
- Half of First Nations children live in poverty
- Half of status First Nations children in Canada live in poverty, a troubling figure that jumps to nearly two-thirds in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, says a newly released report. more »
- Who's who in the Senate expense controversy
- Keeping track of the names popping up in the ongoing Senate expenses controversy — from the investigators to the four senators themselves — could be a difficult task for even the most seasoned political observers. more »
- How open is Ottawa's new 'open data' website?
- Treasury Board President Tony Clement is touting the federal government's revamped data portal as a "new natural resource." But that online window for previously published data arrives at the same time the government faces controversy over just how open it really is. more »
- Police probe death of woman, 27, in Kelowna home
- Hundreds attend 'Change Brazil' protest in Vancouver
- Parents of son 'brutally beaten' playing hockey want charges
- Failed condo pre-sale deal costs Vancouver buyer $750K
- Police probe Mohinder graffiti in East Vancouver
- Cross Canada bike stolen from B.C. senior
- Vancouver airport CEO takes aim at cross-border travellers
- The class photo that made a father cry
- Prison guard files murder trauma claim