October and November are the months where thousands of seasonal workers arrive in Whistler, and the demand for rental housing traditionally goes up. But while the rental housing market has seen a decline in demand in recent years — the result of new employee housing units coming online, a drop in the size of the workforce and more suites and homes available for rent — demand has been inching up again this fall.
The Whistler Housing Authority (WHA) compiles rental listings on a weekly basis, and confirmed that they’re seeing fewer available units at this time of year compared to the last few years, something that indicates an increase in demand. But while rentals may be harder to find, the price has stayed on the low side.
“Fortunately, from a housing affordability perspective, monthly rents are still slightly down over prior years, making the units more affordable for our local tenants,” said Marla Zucht, general manager of the WHA.
The WHA’s own rental inventory of 231 units is current 100 per cent occupied with no vacancies — something that wasn’t the case at this time last year. They also had a waitlist of approximately 200 names at the end of this past September.
Zucht said that the WHA’s annual Housing Needs Assessment survey of local businesses showed that almost 40 per cent of businesses were planning on increasing their employee numbers for this year.
Overall, the Whistler workforce has shrunk from a high of more than 14,000 during the winter of 2009-2010, the Olympic year, to 12,100 last winter.