In her 12 years at the helm of Whistler Community Services
Society (WCSS), Janet McDonald has seen tremendous change.
When she first accepted the position it was part-time and there
were seven programs to oversee.
Today there are 25 programs, more than 20 staff and the budget
has grown to five times its original size.
Now, on the cusp of even more change, McDonald is stepping down
as executive director and moving to Victoria to be closer to family.
She is handing over the reins to two staff members — Greg
McDonnell, who will assume the position of executive director, and Lorna Van
Straaten who will be the administrator.
“I think we’re at the point where we’re going to be able to
expand a whole lot more in the next couple of years,” explained McDonald of the
reason to divide her position.
“We see it over and over again when companies expand very
quickly and they’re not ready for that kind of expansion, it can cause a but of
havoc,” said McDonald. “So I wanted to make sure that it was all prepared.”
Among the WCSS plans on the horizon are a new Re-Build-It
Centre and a large commercial greenhouse.
The Re-Build-It Centre is the logical extension of the
Re-Use-It Centre, recycling building supplies.
Because of the confined space at the Function Junction
location, the new Re-Build-It Centre will be located next to the municipality’s
new waste transfer station at the entrance to the Callaghan Valley, five
minutes south of Function Junction.
It has been the tremendous success of the Re-Use-It Centre
since it opened in 2000 that has allowed WCSS to expand its programs in the
past. The Re-Build-It Centre should provide even more funding. It is scheduled
to open in spring/summer of 2008.
The commercial greenhouse is another large project on the go,
set to offer organic vegetables to local restaurants and food outlets.
McDonald said they are looking at the potential of an 80,000
square foot facility that could operate year-round, located at the new
“These opportunities for further ongoing funding mean we’ll be
able to put that money into more programming,” said McDonald. “In order to
support that kind of growth it made sense to me to really make sure that we
have a solid foundation for our internal systems.”
While McDonnell will oversee the big picture direction of the
organization, working on strategic planning and building community
partnerships, Van Straaten, as administrator, will look over the more the
And so, McDonald said, the timing was right for her to step
down and make the move to Victoria with her husband.
Her extended family is there and she is looking forward to
spending more time with them.
She leaves the organization in December.
After 17 years in this community, however, there will be so
many things she will miss.
“I work with fabulous people with Whistler Community Services but also my peers within the community,” she said. “It’s a great community and that’ll be hard to replace. It’s also very progressive. We have a full-on community plan and we’re heading towards sustainability and you just don’t find that in other communities.”