The acquisition of Whistler Blackcomb (WB) by Vail Resorts, WB’s upcoming Renaissance project, housing, sustainability and more were all discussed at a Whistler Chamber of Commerce luncheon featuring WB CEO Dave Brownlie on Thursday, Dec. 1.
The Renaissance project could add another 150 to 200 jobs to the community, Brownlie said, and WB will be looking at ways to house the added employees.
“My guess is that we’re going to have to make sure that the accommodation is available for those folks, and we’re prepared to do that,” Brownlie said in response to a question from the crowd, wondering why WB’s Renaissance project makes no mention of housing.
“I think that if you look at the history of this community, WB has done certainly more than its fair share of building both employee housing and resident-restricted housing, and we know as a community that challenge is in front of us.
“We’re working on the Mayor’s Task Force, as well, to be a part of that solution. We’re also working on some things internally.”
Further to Renaissance, another person in the crowd asked how negotiations are going with local First Nations and the provincial government in regards to the project.
Brownlie said WB has been working really hard with the province and both the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations to create a strong partnership that will last the next 60 years.
“I would say that I believe that we’re making really good progress, and we hope that we’re able to bring us together in the near future, but it is a long-term agreement, it is important to all of the parties involved, and we have to make sure that’s right for everybody,” he said.
A third questioner wondered if WB has a strategy concerning increased greenhouse gases, or net-zero construction in regards to the Renaissance project.
“Our team will be very involved as we go into the detailed design and looking at all the ways (we can increase sustainability), whether it’s water usage, whether it’s energy, whether it’s CO2 emissions, we’re going to do all the things that we can in a practical nature to manage those to the best of our ability,” Brownlie said.
“Can it be zero? I’m not going to commit to that up here today just yet, but we have a lot of work to do, (and) it definitely is a high priority for us.”
In regards to the acquisition of WB by Vail Resorts, Brownlie said the two companies share similar values around community and environment.
“I think that’s important that… we have a mountain resort company that has beliefs and values that are really consistent with our own. They are in this business only — the mountain resort business — and they are in it for the long term,” he said.
“This truly is the coming together of two great, strong companies with great assets, and ultimately we will be stronger together.”
Pick up next week’s Pique for the full story.