By Michel Beaudry
He’s lived his entire adult life in the shadow of Whistler Mountain. Literally. From local racer boy to downhill hero, from free-spirited adrenaline hound to doting father and World Cup coach, Rob Boyd’s story is inextricably bound to the story of the mountain with which he shares a birthday.
And somehow that’s fitting too. For though he wasn’t born in this valley — he moved here in 1982 — Boyd is still considered a shining example of that first generation of homegrown kids to put Whistler on the global sports map. “I think this place had a lot to do with my success,” he says. “I always knew where I came from. I always felt very proud to tell people I was a Whistlerite...”
He stops. Sighs. “Now that I’m a dad,” he explains, “I think about that kind of stuff a lot more. Whistler has changed since I was a teenager living at the base of the mountain. And I’m not sure it’s all for the best. From a parental point-of-view, I want this place to be more than just another mountain Disneyworld. I want a community that instills good values and nurtures a wonderful way of life for our kids.”
Boyd understands that living in a tourist town means carefully balancing the needs of “community” and “resort”. But what concerns him most right now is whether that balance is out of true. “How much of the community aspects are being put on the back-burner while all the money is being spent on big showy development projects?” he asks. “How much are we sacrificing social progress for short-term profits?”
“We’re a town of only 10,000,” he says. “And we have a lot of ‘stuff’. But we don’t share a common vision. Sometimes it seems like everyone here has their own private agenda. Some want to make money, some want to wield power — and others just want to go out and get as many ski days as possible…”
And that’s totally OK, he says. But if Whistler is to become the community it deserves to be, Boyd maintains “we should really be focusing on working together a little more.” He pauses for a moment. Takes a deep breath. “Everyone talks about sustainability these days. But they often forget that there’s a social component to the mix too. So what are we doing to sustain our way-of-life here? What are we doing to make this place even better in the future?”