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Crompton reflects on first six months in office

From climate-letter chaos to portfolio progress, mayor satisfied so far

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While Mayor Jack Crompton, running unopposed, may not have had to campaign to assume the title of His Worship last fall, his first term as mayor began with some significant adversity to make up for the easy ride to Whistler's top office.

Just one month after his official swearing-in on Nov. 6, Crompton found himself at the centre of a firestorm of negative, at-times-national press resulting from a "climate-accountability" letter sent to oil companies, requesting they begin taking financial responsibility for "climate-related" costs to communities (see Pique, Dec. 20, 2018).

By Dec. 12, the letter was making the rounds amongst oil industry insiders in Alberta, and just two days later it hit the national headlines.

The consensus among columnists and online commenters was that the letter was tone-deaf, hypocritical and poorly timed—and Crompton bore the brunt of the at-times-personal abuse.

"It was extremely difficult at the time," Crompton recalled.

"In retrospect, it's given me a thicker skin, and a greater insight into Canada."

Asked what the takeaway is from the experience, Crompton said he's still committed to being a part of taking action locally while participating in the broader conversation around climate change.

"It's crucial that our town respond to receding glaciers and hotter, drier summers. I would have said that to you before the response to our letter. I feel it deeper in my bones than I did before the letter," he said.

"I want to be able to look my kids in the eye when they're 30 and say I participated in the response. I didn't stand on the sidelines. And I believe our town shares that value."

Aside from that rocky start, Crompton is satisfied with how the first six months of council's term have gone.

"I am extremely pleased with how quickly we got to work," he said.

"We have moved the ball on affordable housing significantly. In Cheakamus Crossing, Phase 2 is well on its way, (and) we will complete three (Whistler Housing Authority) rental buildings shortly."

Crompton has also been impressed with the initiative undertaken by specific councillors on their respective portfolios, like Councillor Arthur De Jong pounding the pavement on environmental issues, or Coun. Cathy Jewett leading the charge on Whistler's revived governance committee.

"Overall, for me it's been exciting to see individual councillors take on the portfolios that they have, and move the ball," Crompton said.

"It is having the intended effect, and we continue to iterate and improve it as we go."

In announcing his bid for mayor back in June 2018, Crompton spoke of a 30-year housing plan (to be explored by a new strategic planning committee, he said on April 9), pursuing a reduction in single-use consumption of all kinds ("I will be pushing for our region to work together to realize those reductions," he said), finding more daycare spots (the RMOW recently received a $25,000 grant to explore the feasibility of adding new spaces, Crompton noted) and finding a new home for the museum ("we are actively engaged on trying to find a location," Crompton said).

Progress is also being made on some of Crompton's other campaign promises, with significant investments into the Valley Trail network this year and the Alpine Trail Network (courtesy of Resort Municipality Initiative funds), and work ongoing on regional transit.

Looking to the next six months, Crompton said getting shovels in the ground on Cheakamus Crossing Phase 2 is priority No. 1, along with pursuing a regional approach to waste reduction, getting the strategic planning committee up and running, making progress on regional transit, community engagement and adoption of the RMOW's evacuation plan, delivery of several large-scale infrastructure projects over the summer, and a final agreement with the Squamish and Lil'wat nations regarding the Official Community Plan.

"I'm proud of the work we've done in our first six months, and I look forward to substantive action on housing, climate, and transportation," Crompton said.

"It's been a pleasure to work with the people I get to work with, and I'm excited about the next three-and-a-half years."

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