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Vancouver tenant displacement under way for 2010

Forced Evictions, Displacement, Olympics and other Mega-Events

Vancouver tenant displacement under way for 2010

Postby TenantNet » Fri Mar 07, 2008 1:28 pm

Rents may top $100,000 a month for luxury homes in Whistler during Olympics
By Clare Ogilvie, The Province
Published: Thursday, March 06, 2008

WHISTLER - Owners of luxury homes in Whistler are looking for rents in the $100,000-a-month range for the Winter Olympics.

"I would say we are looking at $8,000 to $15,000 per bedroom for a 31-day period," said Sylvia Koltzenburg, who is running an Olympic accommodation matchmaking service. "We've certainly got homes over $100,000. It all depends on the number of bedrooms. It's easy to get $90,000 if you have a fairly high-end home here."

Koltzenburg has been fielding scores of calls and e-mails since she started advertising earlier this year.

"I got 177 e-mails [in one day] alone," she said, en route to visiting with another potential Olympic home-renter.

Jim Watson is renting out his three-bedroom-and-den home at Black Tusk, 10 minutes south of Whistler, for an undisclosed sum through Koltzenburg (accommodation@shaw.ca). "I am not particularly interested in being here for the Games," said Watson.

He wouldn't say how much he's getting for the month-long rental but added: "I'm extremely pleased.

"I think it will be a bit of a zoo and . . . there is a financial opportunity to go on a nice holiday and do something positive. I am planning to take my motor home and go down to the Baja with my toys."

Koltzenburg, who lives in Seattle and has a second home in Whistler, is renting out her Whistler home and moving into its suite for the Games. Well aware of the controversy surrounding the displacement of workers living in Whistler's small pool of rental housing, Koltzenburg said she will give her tenant three months' free rent and a vacation for the duration of the Games. She said most of her clients are making alternate arrangements for their tenants.

Brad, a tenant who said he was afraid to give his last name because his landlord might evict him, said: "I've been working here for five years in the service industry and living in the same place for two and I have already been told to get out for 2010 by my landlord. I guess I will be leaving. It just makes me sick this cash grab. The Games are all just about making money."

Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed said he's worried about the displacement of workers. "It's an enormous concern," he said, noting council recently decided not to relax bylaws that would allow short-term rentals - less than 30 days - in homes not zoned for it. "I hope I am right when I say the expectations [of homeowners] are exceeding the demand.

"I want to urge residents and businesses to think long-term. Think beyond the 17 days of the Games and really consider being here and opening their homes for homestay opportunities . . . That in my opinion is a much more enriching way to participate than simply seeing this as a cash grab to go on holiday."

Blake MacKenzie, of Vancouver-based Access Vacation Group/EMR Vacation Rentals, said demand is outpacing supply. "The number of rooms that we have been asked to supply so far is more than what we can handle," he said. "The actual orders are in the thousands of rooms needed and we may have 300 to 400 available if we combine all our inventory."

He believes Vancouver homeowners can get about $400 a night per bedroom. "We've got homes in West Vancouver, Richmond, North Vancouver and downtown condos, as well as people on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, wanting to see if they can lure guests to stay over there as well and take helicopters and planes," said MacKenzie, who has been in the tourism business for five years.

Martin Schoenberg of RentfortheGames.com, a division of ESC adventures, said: "We do think there will be some kind of rush and panic among people who haven't booked yet and that might represent an opportunity for some people to gouge.

"We have a commitment to fairly price our properties and we will not be auctioning off houses" in a bidding war for accommodation.

RentfortheGames.com says the average cost in Vancouver will be about $200 a night per person.
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