Opinion » Editorial


One Whistler, an old concept revived for a new era Beyond the plans to renovate the conference centre, create a visual arts festival and develop a co-ordinated sign program, the most encouraging thing about the formation of the new One Whistler group is it shows people in Whistler are looking forward, outside the narrow definitions of their jobs, to the future. The One Whistler group is looking at Whistler’s position in the international marketplace, at the resort’s strengths and weaknesses, and setting out courses of action to make the resort as competitive as it can be. It could be argued that most of the people who make up the One Whistler group have a significant stake in the future of the resort and therefore should be the ones taking the initiative. But that overlooks an obvious point: everyone in Whistler is, directly or indirectly, in the tourism industry. Therefore, everyone has a stake in the kinds of initiatives One Whistler is taking. While the group may seem elite — senior members of Whistler/Blackcomb, the WRA, Intrawest and the RMOW are on board — and remote to some, it is in fact a bit of a throwback to the late ’70s and early ’80s, when Whistler was very much an unknown quantity. It was through a collective approach to the resort and its future 15-20 years ago that the people of Whistler laid the foundation for the success the resort has become. There wasn’t unanimous agreement at the time about the direction Whistler should go, but there was a critical mass of business, government and ski industry people who consciously and collectively identified a goal and set a course to achieve it. That sort of collective effort has dissipated as Whistler has grown and gained fame. Battles over employee housing projects, pension rezonings, liquor licences and other "internal" matters now seem to be the great issues for Whistlerites. The town will probably never again see the kind of collective buy-in to a common cause that marked the early days of the resort, and perhaps that’s a sign Whistler is maturing. But part of that maturing — or ageing — is recognizing that the days of steady physical growth are coming to an end. The creation of the One Whistler group acknowledges this point. Whistler is about to enter a new stage in its evolution. And as Whistler weans itself from development and, at buildout, is forced to make do with a finite tax and WRA membership base, a collective approach will be essential to keeping the resort vibrant. A collective approach is also going to be necessary for one of Whistler’s biggest battles on the horizon, tax reform.

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