September 26, 2018 8:35 pm

Whistler Blackcomb announces 200-bed staff dorm, with rents under $400 per month

Whistler Blackcomb says it hopes to have the new units online by 2020.

Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

A new 200-bed staff housing project is in the works for Whistler Blackcomb, as the resort tries to retain staff in one of the province’s most expensive housing markets.

Vail Resorts, which bought the ski hill back in 2016, announced the new project on Monday.

“We know housing is the single biggest issue facing our community today. It’s not just a Whistler Blackcomb problem, it spreads across the entire community,” said resort COO Pete Sontag.

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“This will make a pretty significant dent, although there’s still going to be more work to do.”

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According to Sontag, the company currently houses 31 per cent of its employees, and the facility would bump that up to more than one-third.

The “Glacier 8” project, to be located next to Whistler Blackcomb’s operations building on Glacier Lane, will house employees for just under $400 per month in a dorm-style accommodation.

Sontag said that dorm-style living for workers was one key priority identified in the Whistler Mayor’s Task Force on Residential Housing.

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“Increasing affordable housing for our community’s workforce to support the long-term success and livelihood of our community has been a priority of this Council,” said Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden in a statement.

“This project, along with other projects initiated by the Mayor’s Task Force on Resident Housing, puts us well on the way to the target of adding 1,000 [resident restricted] beds.”

Sontag projected the housing, which must clear a rezoning hearing at Whistler council, would come online by 2020.

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Ensuring affordable housing for the ski hill and local business staff has been an ongoing problem for the community.

According to the Whistler Housing Authority, the community has a vacancy rate of 0.5 per cent.

One-bedroom units regularly list on Craigslist for between $1,200 and $2,500, and have in extreme cases been listed for as much as $6,000.

Earlier this year, one hotel operator announced plans to buy a house for his employees to live in, saying the No. 1 question that candidates ask during job interviews is whether the employer is offering staff accommodation.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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