Opinion » Alta States

Alta states

A writer’s confession: Ten reasons for loving Whistler



It happens. People get pissed off. They get insulted. So it goes. And the response is never slow in coming. That’s what you get for being presumptuous enough to put your opinions out there for all to read. Especially in this town. What surprises me is how personal it gets. In the last two-and-a-bit years of writing Alta States, I’ve been accused of all sorts of things. I’m anti-Intrawest. I hate Whistler. I’m a disruptive detractor. I loathe snowboarding. I’m a sentimental neo-Luddite. I live in the — gasp! — city!

And yes, those accusations hurt. I mean, do you think I would really spend my time writing a weekly column about a place I disliked as much as my critics say I do? Believe me, that’s a non-starter.

Fortunately Alta States has also allowed me to learn a heck of a lot about the various members of this great, complex social weave we think of as the Whistler community. And that has been a thoroughly positive experience (and it’s made me love this place even more than I did before). From Ace McKay-Smith to Florence Petersen and Irene Whistney, from Peter Alder to Mike Varrin, Dan Ellis and Jorge Alvarez: the folks who make this place swing are positive, caring, generous people who truly care about the future of Whistler. And it’s made me realize just how much is at stake here.

Another aspect of my Alta States meandering has been to pursue the “future of mountain resorts” line of enquiry. And that, faithful reader, has been both fascination and sobering. Again, I’ve been fortunate enough to access some of the most progressive thinkers in that domain. Whether Eldon Beck or Myles Rademan, David Perry, Helen Klanderud, Arthur de Jong or Rick Kahl, it’s evident from everything these “seers” are telling me that the mountain tourism business is undergoing profound changes right now. Resorts that resist these changes, they warn me, will not survive. It’s that simple.

As with mining, logging and fishing in the last century, B.C. boasts incredible mountain tourism potential for the 21 st . And Whistler is defining the very leading edge of that potential right now. In other words, where Whistler goes over the next few years, many other resort-towns will follow. But that doesn’t mean we’re failure-proof. Especially given our province’s economic track record.

So does it not behoove us to move forward carefully? Is it not in our best interest to ask difficult questions of our leaders? And do it publicly — without eliciting rancour or abuse? Besides, if we want people to consider us “world-class”, are we not responsible for holding ourselves up to a higher standard? I mean, isn’t that what ‘world class’ is all about?