By Andrew Mitchell
Whistler residents have a lot on their minds, judging by the wide range of issues and questions that were brought up Friday, June 8 as Whistler council hosted a round table discussion and barbecue.
The format was the same as the previous open house, with citizens gathering at round tables and councillors making the rounds to answer questions and address concerns brought forward by the public. Mayor Ken Melamed kicked off the discussion with an overview of council projects, and wrapped it up with an open question and answer period.
Roughly 30 people took part in the discussions, although the number of participants got larger as the afternoon wore on and the open house shifted into barbecue mode.
Melamed said the open house meetings are useful, and bring a lot of issues and ideas to the attention of council.
“It’s an opportunity for people to get things off their chests that they’re thinking about, and look at ways we can improve what we’re doing in Whistler,” he said. “Everybody gets some face time with members of council, and a chance to ask those questions that are on their minds, and get answers from their elected representatives. There were also a few cases where we didn’t have the answers, in which case we made it a point to get back to those people with the right information.
“Our feeling at council is that we can’t over-communicate, and you can never have too many opportunities for the community to engage with their local elected officials in an open way. It’s so important to be open and accountable.”
The discussions covered a wide range of topics. In his visits to four tables, Melamed said he was approached on a number of different issues.
“I don’t have a definite list of notes, and encouraged people to fill out their exit interview comments for follow-up, but from the few notes I did make I can tell you that people asked about increased access to cross-country trail connections in the winter, there were suggestions for putting rental accommodation on the old Nesters tank farm site — or what will hopefully become the old tank farm site once the pipeline is in place.
“We heard about energy issues, with businesses leaving their doors open through the winter, people were questioning the need to renovate municipal hall, there were questions about bed units, public transportation — someone even suggested building a valley bottom gondola to transport people like they have in some European resorts.”
At table two, transportation was a huge topic.