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Alta states

The old economy is dead: Long live the new economy (But what is it?)



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Let's face it. We have incredible Whistler ambassadors traveling the world. From ski stars Britt and Michael Janyk to Mayor Ken Melamed, from eco-innovator Arthur DeJong to bike-park guru Tom Prochazka - to name but a few - these longtime locals do the community an incredible service simply by doing their jobs. As a fellow world-traveler, I can tell you exactly what kind of impact these individuals have abroad. No matter how much abuse Melamed gets at home, for example, our mayor does a very creditable job of representing the community at international events. As for the rest of the above-mentioned, each is a walking/talking/acting advertisement for the best that Whistler has to offer. It's called lifestyle and everyone wants to have one...

So let's work harder on providing our guests with a backstage pass to that lifestyle. Let's find new ways to give our visitors a momentary hit of our local magic. It's fundamental to our survival. But that's just a start. For if Whistler wants to make a smooth transition from real estate economy to value-added economy, the community is going to have to find a way to encourage job diversity among its young residents.

But it has to be a job diversification that makes sense. Does job diversity in Sea to Sky country include developing a gravel pit or clear-cutting a rare stand of old-growth timber? I don't think so.

Fortunately, much of the ground work in that sector has been done. Whistler already boasts a number of value-added enterprises that rock. It's just that the "establishment" in this valley isn't really paying attention. And sadly, that's where the disconnect lies.

Think about it. If the industrial ski resort model turns out to be unsustainable, if there really isn't a market for 35,000 skiers per day at Whistler (and industry experts are increasingly skeptical on that score), if Intrawest's days are numbered (as so many insiders have predicted in recent months), how the heck are we going to get out of this gaping financial hole we're facing if we don't change our game? People come to the mountains, let's not forget, for re-creation. Let's make sure they get the chance to discover their own unique Whistler experience while they're here "re-creating"...

Interested in locally-made skis and boards? Chris Prior and his team of local board shapers can happily deliver the goods. Graphic designs and locally-printed T-shirts more your style? Look no further than Toad Hall, where Jorge Alvarez and his fellow toads have been tweaking the nose of local authorities for decades. Want to get a taste of what's beyond the lifts in the Whistler area? Joey Houssian's backcountry business, Outdoor Adventures at Whistler, will provide everything you're looking for. Searching out a reputable real estate firm? Maggi Thornhill and her team pride themselves on their individual attention to clients.

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