On Feb. 10 and 11 of 2003, shortly after the makeup of the present council was determined in a tie-breaking second vote, the three new councillors got together with the three returning councillors, the mayor and senior municipal staff for a strategic planning workshop. At that workshop the group identified seven key issues that were deemed "urgent" and needed immediate attention. They were:
affordability and affordable housing;
the 2010 Olympic bid;
Whistler. Its Our Future, comprehensive sustainability plan;
transition strategy for the next few months;
Class 1/6 issue, classification of short-term overnight accommodation;
provincial relationships; and
communication issues in the community.
More than two and a half years later, as the mandate of this council winds down, the only things that can definitively be checked off on that list are the Olympic bid and the comprehensive sustainability plan. People can draw their own conclusions on how successfully the other five key issues have been addressed.
But more important than assigning these issues to the win or loss column is to look at why so many of them still need to be dealt with. Why, for instance, was Tuesdays council meeting the first official meeting between Whistler and MLA Joan McIntyre? Since she was elected in May, McIntyre has been active throughout the corridor, meeting people, attending events and getting to know the issues facing the communities throughout the West Vancouver-Garibaldi riding. She has met and talked with some of Whistlers councillors one on one, but in the first three months of her time as Whistlers representative in Victoria a time when the legislature was not sitting the Resort Municipality of Whistlers representatives did not have any official contact with her.
True, McIntyre is not a cabinet minister, although her appointment to the governments prestigious Strategic Policy and Legislative Priorities Committee (shes the only non-cabinet minister on the committee headed by Premier Gordon Campbell) suggests she is well respected in Victoria. Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer suggested she may be the first backbencher elevated to cabinet when it comes time for a cabinet shuffle.
The point is, with the 2010 Olympics less than five years away, with Whistler a crucial part of the Games, and with many provincial government policies co-ordinated to take advantage of the Olympics, there has probably never been a time when Victoria and Ottawa have been more open to listening to and helping Whistler.
So why havent they heeded Whistlers demands and handed over financial tools and dealt with the Class 1/6 tax issue?