Local business owner Tina James announces candidacy for Whistler council

Whistler will elect a new mayor and council on October 15

For local business owner Tina Pashumati James, Whistler’s housing crisis is personal, as not too long ago she had to live without her vehicle while running a business in town.

“During my time in Whistler, I was homeless twice and slept in my car while running a successful business,” James said. “We must prioritize solving the housing crisis and supporting local businesses that cannot find staff because there is no housing.”

Now James hopes to be part of the solution by running for a council seat in the October 15 municipal election.

The local entrepreneur and yoga teacher said she was inspired to run for office after seeing the effect of the housing crisis on mental health and business viability.

“This whole issue is related to mental health, so it inspired me. I can’t just stand there watching. I really can’t, because there are a lot of young people suffering in our city,” he said. she declared. .

“I want to stand up for the young people I see suffering a lot. You can live in heaven, but for some people it can be like hell.”

James, 60, has lived in Whistler for 19 years. She previously worked as a ski patroller for Whistler Blackcomb and currently runs her own small business, Loka Yoga.

James’ platform focuses on affordable housing, the environment and First Nations reconciliation.

Politically, James would like to see a space in Whistler or the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) created for people living in their vehicles that will give them access to toilets and drinking water or a space for the creation of small houses.

“There has to be a place where we could set up a place where people in motorhomes, instead of driving from place to place feeling very unsafe, a place where Whistler could keep an eye on it,” she said. “I think that would be a brilliant short-term solution, which could help enormously in the winter.”

James would also like to see the number of short-term overnight rentals in the municipality limited, as she believes they contribute to the lack of long-term rentals in the municipality.

“If they allow Airbnbs, that takes away housing from them, because that means the landlord will get $200 a night for Airbnbs, which means people who want to live here permanently, our workforce won’t have nowhere to live,” she said.

“We can’t get labor. We have nowhere to put it because all the Airbnbs now have tourists who are not our labor.”

James believes that the housing situation in Whistler is unsustainable and that the municipality needs to come up with new ideas to solve the housing crisis.

“It’s not just about getting more housing, because the Whistler Housing Authority is trying to do its best, but I think we have to find ways to house people, so they don’t live in chicken coops,” she said.

“When people are asking $5,000 for a house that they’re going to get kicked out of in a year, that’s not a solution. I think the government needs to sit down and talk about how they can create affordable housing for the workforce…we have to put a system in place and work together to try to create a way for our workforce to stay here or else we won’t have a workforce . »

In addition to housing, James would like the municipality to engage in more consultation with the Lil’wat and Squamish Nations, as she believes the municipality needs to do more to advance reconciliation.

“I think we all need to sit down together rather than hiding the issues. We could work together and be the first ski resort to create something good for mental health, reconciliation, the environment, trees, bears and housing. That’s what I believe.

The nomination period runs from August 30 to September 9, with the official campaign period running between September 17 and October 15.