Opinion » Editorial


Andy Warhol said (promised?) that one day everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. Many Whistlerites got their 15 minutes in February following Ross Rebagliati's Olympic gold medal performance and the subsequent debacle unleashed by the International Olympic Committee over trace amounts of marijuana found in Rebagliati's system. For a solid week just about anyone with a snowboard and/or a phone number with a 932, 938 or 905 prefix qualified as an expert on the subject and stood a good chance of being interviewed by some media outlet. Now, barely a month later, the Royals are in town, and more than 300 journalists have come along with them on their private vacation. Another 15 minutes for Whistler. Whistlerites, in general, don't seem to care that the Royals are here. The exception is the Whistler Resort Association, which is ecstatic because those 300 journalists will be writing about and getting footage of Whistler. Fifteen minutes of fame with the Royals means lots of international exposure for the resort and should translate into more visitors. But less than 24 hours before the Royals and most of the media got their first glimpse of the Whistler they'll tell the world about, another side of Whistler was on display in council chambers. Affordable employee housing was one of the issues being debated. One councillor called it "essential for our survival." Another said Whistler needs employee housing to preserve Whistler "as a real town." Chalet and villa accommodation was also discussed. "Ultimately, this is an issue that doesn't have a compromise," one councillor said. Another talked about the "travesty of condoning illegal operations for another year," while a proponent wrote to council suggesting chalet and villa guests generate about $11 million in revenue annually and that council must consider its "economic responsibility to this community..." These types of debates go on in every town. Most communities don't have to deal with quite the same issues Whistler does, and debates in Whistler may get more passionate than in other municipalities, but issues affecting the quality of life of its citizens are the bread and butter of a democratic municipal council. These stories won't interest the 300 journalists here, but they should be of at least passing interest to anyone with a stake in Whistler. All of Whistler and most of the world knows the Royals are here now, just as all of Whistler and most of the world knows about Ross Rebagliati. But how many in Whistler know or are interested in employee housing or chalet accommodation or any number of other issues facing Whistler, until they directly impact them? The skiing, snowboarding and overall vacation experience the Royals have found this week is part of the "real Whistler," but as Warhol intimated, you don't get the whole story in 15 minutes. Whistlerites take note.

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