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Whistler could hardly be described as economically depressed, but there are signs that after many years of exceptional growth, on virtually all fronts, some consideration should be given to what will drive the economy in the next few years. One of the first signs that thing may be changing is that for the first time in three years skier visits are down. Given some of the weather Whistler had this year and the tragic Quicksilver accident it’s not really a surprise. (In fact, considering the weather and the accident both mountains did well to exceed their skier projections). Still, with more new businesses in town this past winter a larger pool of potential customers is required, if all businesses are to survive — and there’s the nub of the issue. Growth has been a major factor in Whistler’s economy for years. Whether it’s been new retail stores, new high-speed lifts, new restaurants, new golf courses or new hotels, the substantial increase each year has been supported by an increase in visitors. Some of that growth — in particular, new lifts — has helped draw more visitors each year, who have in turn helped fuel the local economy. But this winter there weren’t as many visitors and there were more businesses to support. It may be that in Whistler’s rapid development there was more commercial space opened up than public accommodation this year, but that’s what some retailers were complaining about the previous winter. Over the next couple of years the village and Village North will be built out. At that time it will start to become evident whether the ratio of public accommodation to retail space/restaurants is about right. But there are lots of other factors to consider, such as Whistler’s booming year-round population. Who those residents are and how they earn a living in Whistler is going to play an increasingly important role in the local economy. emphasizes need to consider changing economy... (easier to plan for it than react after)

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