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A personal sustainability plan


Pretend it’s July 2003, and in a 14 th century hall in Prague the IOC has just decided to award the 2010 Winter Olympics to Bern, Switzerland.

If you want to add some drama to this fantasy, imagine it was the Russian IOC delegate who cast the deciding vote for Bern because he still holds a grudge over Salé and Pelletier getting gold medals at Salt Lake.

You may be crying in your beer or you may be dancing in the streets over the fact the Games won’t be in Whistler.

But where do we go from here?

The Liberal government in Victoria announces that upgrades to the Sea to Sky highway will still take place, but the improvements may be delayed.

There’s talk that logging may resume in the Callaghan Valley. Any deals with First Nations on land claims in the valley fall by the wayside. And of course there is no money to build a Nordic centre and the athlete village that was to become employee housing after the Olympics is scrapped.

Presumably this is where the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan, that has still to be developed, will kick in.

As the original request for expressions of interest states, the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan is "…meant to be a plan that will define and advance the social, economic and environmental opportunities for the community over the long term within a sustainable framework."

That’s a bit vague, but the request for expressions of interest also says the CSP will be "…a clear assessment of what the community values and what steps need to be taken to secure those values into the future." Further: "Ours is a community that has been on a historic success curve. We do not seek to simply extend the end of the curve, but to create a cycle that renews Whistler’s uniqueness over time."

These are selected quotes from a 23-page document, but they seem to me to get at the heart of what the CSP – the plan that will guide Whistler into the future whether the Olympics are part of that future or not – is all about. Consultants will be asked to determine our values and how we can keep Whistler unique within the context of limited development and global factors affecting tourism.

It still sounds very complicated, which is why $500,000 has been allocated for the contract.

But for what it’s worth, I can tell you what it is that makes Whistler unique. It’s the people. And it’s the people that have to be protected just as surely as the environment has to be protected.

I didn’t see any of the presentations three weeks ago, when about 200 people spent more than four hours on a Saturday listening to how the CSP consultants would help us shape our future. But I know what I, as a resident, hope for Whistler’s future: I hope for the means to continue to live here and I hope for the motivation to continue to live here.

The means to continue to live here includes things like a satisfying job, a decent place to live and being able to afford to live here. The motivation to continue to live here means Whistler remains an exciting place to live because of the people who live here and the issues and events that go on in this mountain environment.

That isn’t a sustainability plan for the whole town, but I think it’s at the heart of what the sustainability plan has to be. It’s about the people of Whistler. They are what make Whistler unique and sustainable.