British Columbia

$400/month rent is coming to Whistler: Complex for resort staff aims to ease housing crunch

Whistler Blackcomb is hoping to make a dent in the resort's housing shortage with the proposal of a new staff housing complex.

Beds at 'Glacier 8' would cost less than $400 a month, resort COO says

The mountain resort community has a vacancy rate of less than half a per cent. (Canadian Press)

Whistler Blackcomb is hoping to make a dent in the resort's housing shortage with the proposal of a new staff housing complex.

The resort announced plans for a dorm-style complex with 200 beds in Whistler, B.C., on Tuesday.

Pete Sonntag, chief operating officer at Whistler Blackcomb, says rent will be set at less than $400 a month — similar to the resort's existing staff housing, but far cheaper than market value.

A worker on Blackcomb Mountain. Whistler Blackcomb draws seasonal staff from around the world. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

"Affordable housing is an issue that's been increasing in importance over the past few years ... the need is critical and it's critical across the community," Sonntag said Tuesday.

"You compare [that rate] to some of the stories you're hearing out there right now — of over $1,000 [a month] — this is a huge difference-maker."

Whistler has a vacancy rate of less than half a per cent, making it difficult for seasonal staff to find a place to live — let alone an affordable option.

The "Glacier 8" facility would target first-season staff and seasonal-returning staff, according to a statement. Employees would need to stay for at least two weeks, paying $12.65 a night.

Last year, the local municipal government announced plans to add 1,000 new beds in town over the next five years.

The mayor of the resort town says she hopes to see three quarters of its staff housed locally. (Denis Dossmann/CBC)

Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said she'd like to see 75 per cent of the town's workforce living locally.

"We've got to preserve our community for our full-time residents and our employees," she said Tuesday.

The Glacier 8 project will go before city council in the new year as the proposed building site would need to be rezoned. Sonntag said Whistler Blackcomb hopes to see the complex opened by 2020.

With files from Joel Ballard

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