Roger McCarthy won’t be throwing his hat in the ring for November’s municipal election, deciding not to seek re-election after his first term at the council table.
“I never ever thought I would enter the political arena but I’m really glad I did,” he said. “I enjoyed it, I enjoyed the support from the community and I think I was lucky to serve with probably one of the most balanced council’s we’ve had.”
With decades of experience developing some of the world’s top ski resorts, McCarthy ran for council in 2011 on a two-man slate with fellow Kiwi, Duane Jackson, with an eye towards driving room nights in the resort during Whistler’s post-Olympic period.
Although he admits there’s still plenty of work to be done, with a robust events calendar in place and what appears to be another record-breaking summer in the books, McCarthy said he’s taking a step away from local government to focus on his resort-development consulting firm.
“This time three years ago, I felt there was some post-Olympic issues that needed to get cleaned up,” he said.
“There are a lot of things that have gone really well in the last three years and I’m more of a fix-it kind of guy … But I think if (councillors) Jack (Crompton), John (Grills) and Andrée (Janyk) are back in there with (Mayor) Nancy (Wilhelm-Morden), then you’ve got a really good framework to continue.”
McCarthy pointed to the success of Whistler’s Festivals, Events and Animation (FE&A) program as a major feather in council’s cap over their term.
“I think the FE&A program was essentially fledgling (three years ago) and sort of sprouted out of nothing,” he said. “Now we’re coming off a summer of record room nights, and you have to point to FE&A as one of the primary drivers.”
Looking ahead, McCarthy said it’s essential that Whistler continues receiving tourism funding through the Resort Municipality Initiative program, something the B.C. Government has said it will re-examine in the future.
“We send $1.3 million a day in taxes we generate as a community down the road to the feds and to the province, and I’d like to see them throw some hay in front of the cow instead of just pulling the milk out,” said McCarthy, who feels a key priority for council moving forward should be the refurbishment of aging village buildings, an effort he hopes senior levels of government will support.
“It’s time we went to the feds and the province and said, ‘Look, we need to be relevant going forward and this isn’t going to be that simple,’” he said. “Maybe if the feds and the province can throw a dollar on the table, we can create some initiatives for some major refurbishment going forward."Applauding the previous council for hiring chief administrator Mike Furey, McCarthy also relished the opportunity to work with his fellow council members over the past three years.
“I consider myself really lucky to have served with the group that I did. My thanks really goes out to those who elected me, and I think we brought a breath of fresh air to the community."
The municipal election is slated for Nov. 15.