Opinion » Editorial


We probably have to go back to the 1950s, before the first talk of bringing the Olympics to this valley, for the last time Whistler wasn’t staring straight into the headlights of some imminent, significant changes. Even at that time, there was a steady, sizeable influx of "weekenders" building cabins around Alta Lake and swelling the summer population. In the ’60s it was first the drive to bring the Olympics here, then the push to develop Whistler Mountain for skiing. In the early ’70s, as Whistler proved popular with Vancouver residents, the land speculation and sprawling development through the valley raised questions about where a town centre should be. This led to a land freeze and then the creation of the Resort Municipality of Whistler in 1975. And ever since then we’ve been building. But as we approach the next century there are a number of forces or issues coming to a head at the same time that will, again, significantly change the face of Whistler. Buildout may be the biggest force, although the concept of buildout itself deserves considerable discussion. Related to buildout is the municipality’s attempt to change its principal source of revenue, from development to tourists. The latest Olympic bid, the transportation master plan, Intrawest’s plans — for Creekside but also post-Creekside development, David Strangway’s private university proposal and other efforts that would diversify the economy are also issues that will take shape in the next couple of years and will have long-term implications as far as what Whistler is and how it works. These are broad issues and concepts that require more than a yes/no answer and more consideration than just "how will it affect my property value?" Quality of life in Whistler should be the measuring stick when dealing with these issues, keeping in mind that quality of life applies to everyone and includes sustaining a way of life as well as protecting what we have now. The building blocks for dealing with these issues are the people of Whistler. It’s the people of Whistler, more than the issues, that we should be focusing on. What do we the people want Whistler to be? It has taken a lot of effort over the last 40 years to build Whistler into what it is today — good, bad or indifferent. But it’s going to take even more effort to build and maintain something less tangible after the physical building of Whistler is completed: the community. The issues that are converging at the turn of the century — buildout, a diversified and sustainable economy, transportation systems and Intrawest’s role in this community — are people issues.

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