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More than 400 volunteers have been on Whistler Mountain this week, erecting fences, building safety systems and securing the course for the weekend's World Cup ski races. The volunteers are working an average of 10 hours a day for at least five days each, which works out to 20,000 man hours. The World Cup downhill is one of the most visible events put on by volunteers, but it is by no means the only one. Sporting events all year round are made possible by volunteers. So are cultural events, such as the Whistler Community Arts Council's theatre festival. Other organizations, like the Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Scouts and Girl Guides and the service clubs also thrive because of the efforts of volunteers. It's the same in other towns; clubs, teams and events happen because concerned people care. But, as the large percentage of out-of-town volunteers on the race course shows, there seems to be something in Whistler that draws people to donate their time and energy for the benefit of others. That spirit — a determination to get involved and help create something — has been an integral part of Whistler for many years. It's what has made Whistler the place it is today. That's not to say that everyone agrees all the time. There is as much debate and as many points of view here as in towns many times Whistler's size. A big reason that debate is so intense is the passion people feel for Whistler. Those that care about this town and its people care a great deal. That feeling is what motivates the volunteers on the downhill course, the organizers of the theatre festivals and the members of the service clubs. It's not something easily explained or understood, but it's very real. It's what will motivate people to come out Tuesday evening to discuss the Steelworkers’ bid to organize employees at the two lift companies. – Bob Barnett

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