A new era begins in Whistler tonight with the swearing in of the new council — all-new, in television-speak.
The firsts for this council have been noted frequently since the Nov. 19 election: it was the first Whistler municipal election where no incumbents were returned to office and Nancy Wilhelm-Morden is Whistler’s first female mayor.
The all-new council may hold its first real meeting tomorrow.
Last month’s vote totals show the Whistler electorate overwhelmingly rejected the incumbent council members, delivering a strong mandate for change. Presumably.
And yet, radical changes are unlikely. Mayor-elect Wilhelm-Morden has promised no property tax increases in 2012. She’s promised to “fix” the public transit system and “work towards restoring the trust between the community and municipal hall.” Goals most of the candidates, including the new councillors, could agree on.
Wilhelm-Morden also feels Whistler is in a pretty good position, with Rainbow and Cheakamus Crossing meeting the demands for resident housing and other Olympic infrastructure providing new opportunities for the community.
As well, municipal reserve funds, which were depleted by capital spending in the years leading up to the Olympics, are being rebuilt.
So what is the change that voters were so desperate for? Undoing pay parking? Closing the asphalt plant?
Getting rid of both would make some people happy, but as issues they are more symbolic than fundamental to Whistler.
The way the last council — and municipal hall — dealt with pay parking and the asphalt plant is where change is expected. A little more empathy, a little better communication and a little less of the “we know best” attitude that seemed to emanate from municipal hall in recent months are some of the changes people are looking for.
And with a new chief administrative officer installed, the new council has an opportunity to effect these sorts of changes.
Welcome the new council into office tonight at 5:30 at Millennium Place. And then keep in touch with them; communication is a two-way street.