With a long list of changes and challenges affecting Whistler's community in recent years, it's not uncommon to hear some questioning whether Whistler is losing its soul.
But if last night's Whistler Excellence Awards were any indication, that spirit is still alive and kicking.
Around 500 people gathered in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler's ballroom to celebrate Whistler's best. It was the largest crowd in the award ceremony's history, noted Whistler Chamber of Commerce CEO Melissa Pace, the host of the sold-out evening.
The winner of the prestigious Citizen of the Year award was Steve Bayly, someone who "advocates for the underrepresented in our community," said 2017 Citizen of the Year Heather Paul.
Over the course of his career, the builder, developer and landlord has developed eight projects in Function Junction, along with others in Barnfield, Lakecrest, and Nesters Crossing. He was also the founding director of the Whistler Housing Authority and director of the Whistler 2020 Development Corporation (WDC), in addition to building the 2010 Olympics athletes' village now known as Cheakamus Crossing.
Newly added to the awards roster this year was the locals' choice award for favourite local legend. The list of nominees was packed full of beloved longtime locals like "Princess" Stephanie Reesor, Ace McKay Smith, the Hairfarmers, Tara O'Doherty, Sue Adams, Mo Douglas and Barrett Fisher. However, it was Brett Tippie, a pioneer of freeride mountain biking, former World Cup snowboard racer and announcer with a personality to match his list of accolades, that came out on top.
Here are the rest of last night's winners and nominees:
Business Person of the Year
- Matheo Durfeld
- Sarah Strother
- Kerri Jones
Citizen of the Year
- Steve Bayly
- Linda Epp
- Shelagh Weightman
Innovative Business of the Year
- ULLR Adventure Maps
Sustainability in Action Business
- Sea to Sky Removal
- Sea to Sky Soils
- Whistler Blackcomb
Rising Star of the Year
- Josianne Fox - SmartFox Consulting
- Blair Kaplan - Blair Kaplan Communications INC
- Isaac Marangoni - Whistler Performance Lubricants
Whistler Champion of Arts & Culture
- Angie Nolan
- Ace McKay Smith
- Dave Petko
Whistler Experience Service - Small Business
- Rocks and Gems Canada
- The Fitzsimmons Pub
- Farfalla Hair and Esthetics
Whistler Experience Service - Large Business
- Canadian Wilderness Adventures
- Basalt Wine + Salumeria
- Whistler Public Library
Not only do we offer top-notch service - we look good doing it! We had tons of fun at the @whistlerchamber Excellence Awards last night. Our community is INCREDIBLE, and we were honoured to be in such good company at @fairmontwhistlr 🥂📚❤️💃🏾 #whistlerexcellenceawards #celebratingexcellence #themoststoked #thewhistlerexperience #loveyourlibrary #inspirewonder #stayedforthelibrary #whistlerpubliclibrary #mywhistler