Alon Rimon is passionate about solving the resort’s ongoing housing crisis.
He’s also of the belief that most municipal councillors in Whistler are focused on serving their own interests, while Whistler’s housing crunch has deteriorated under their watch. “Last year we got bad press from the Globe and Mail reporting Whistler’s workforce are living in vans due to the housing crisis, and we’ve done nothing,” he said.
To that end, Rimon is making a bid for his own seat at the council table in the upcoming municipal byelection, scheduled to take place on Oct. 28. “My personal agenda is to have a home for me and my friends so they don’t leave,” he added.
Rimon came to Canada in 1995, after serving three years in the Israeli Air Force. He’s worked as Whistler’s FedEx courier since 2010, and has spent time in the summer volunteering in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park for the past four years (a position he said he’d give up if elected, in order to avoid any potential conflicts of interest). He also joined the Whistler Housing Authority (WHA) waitlist three years ago, where over 100 locals remain ahead of him for a spot in a resident-restricted unit.
While Rimon agrees recreation and art are important (he said he was “born with a soccer ball in his hand,”) he believes they should not currently be treated as a top priority considering the severity of other issues in the resort. Housing more Whistler employees closer to their workplace should also be seen as an environmental goal, due to its ability to help lower greenhouse gas emissions, he added.
“Our new mayor and councillors spent three years prioritizing their own agendas ahead of solving (the) housing crisis and spent the rest of funds to purchase 200 acres of land that will further expand the resort but won’t be used for housing,” Rimon argued, referencing the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s (RMOW) purchasing of the Parkhurst lands earlier this year.
(The RMOW has said it currently has no plans to develop the site.)
Although the RMOW and WHA have revealed plans to add 1,000 new units of resident-restricted housing to the resort within the next five years, “the new Cheakamus housing plan is nothing but a 2018 election show done behind closed doors to make the RMOW appear as if they are suddenly committed to affordable housing,” he argued.
Rimon also wonders why Whistler hasn’t surveyed locals currently on the WHA wait list before planning the new developments. With construction of 250 of those units already underway in Cheakamus Crossing, Rimon is of the belief that many locals would prefer not to live in the resort’s southernmost neighbourhood. This dissatisfaction with Cheakamus would worsen if the idea to further develop a parking lot and gondola operations in the residential neighbourhood ever come to fruition, he added.
To that end, Rimon said he’d like to see resident housing developments move north of the Village, linking the Rainbow and Emerald neighbourhoods, as opposed to building more units in Cheakamus Crossing. His idea for the resident housing development, which he refers to as “Enbow,” would require the land to be secured and rezoned in order to build a variety of the high-density housing structures clustered around its own stroll. “Locals could have their own little oasis away from town, with no traffic, and it would grow as we need it to grow,” he said.
“Extending existing WHA neighbourhoods located north of the Village should be Whistler’s next housing project,” Rimon continued. “Locals want less traffic, less tourists crowding and other local WHA owners as neighbours.”