Renting a 1,700-square-foot, furnished townhouse in Whistle Bend could cost the City of Whitehorse $2,900 per month plus electricity, cable and internet.
The proposed lease agreement for 177 Olive May Way came forward at Whitehorse city council’s Nov. 2 meeting with Lindsay Schneider, the city’s acting director of human resources, noting that the last lease agreement for temporary city accommodations ended in 2018.
Since then the city has been renting accommodations at various locations around the city for incoming staff depending on what is required at a specific time.
As Schneider noted, the city currently offers 30 days accommodation, which can also be extended, to incoming staff. She said while accommodations aren’t typically offered outright, they are made available if an incoming employee asks about accommodations.
“This benefit is highly used in our recruitment techniques as accommodations are typically hard to find and have proven even harder through the pandemic as hotels are closed and rates have increased,” Schneider stated in her report. “The City has recently paid $3,000 per month for a one-bedroom suite and almost $8,000 per month for a family accommodation. Having this fully-furnished 1,700-square-foot townhouse, which would accommodate a family unit, will save the City per month in accommodation costs.”
Questioned further by Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu about the high cost for the family accommodation, Schneider noted the $8,000 for a family unit for one month came during the spring when a number of hotels were closed due to COVID. It meant accommodations had to be found on short notice with limited places for a family to stay.
Coun. Steve Roddick, meanwhile, wondered if the city has ever lost potential recruits because they could not find a place to live.
Schneider replied by noting in some cases recruits have negotiated an extra 30 days (paying for the additional month) in their accommodations to allow more time for them to find a permanent home, while there was one case where a staffer left the city due to being unable to find housing after their accommodation time was up. In that case, the city is recouping the cost of the accommodations back from the former employee.
In cases where the townhouse is not being used for incoming city staff, it could be used for Outside consultants who may be in town to work on contracts they have with the city. It was noted that having such accommodations available could save on the cost of contracts.
“Given that the City has issued several requests for proposals with no response in regards to accommodations, administration has been actively approaching landlords who advertised their rentals to determine whether they would be interested in a two-year lease,” Schneider said. “Most rentals were not willing to furnish or were already spoken for when contacted. This property was just recently posted and the landlord was agreeable to the terms that the City was asking for.”
Council will vote on whether to move forward with the bylaw for the two-year lease on the townhouse at its Nov. 9 meeting.
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