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Editorial

The measure of three years

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And if it’s not Victoria’s fault then it’s the local economy which has been subject to so many unpredictable external factors: 9/11, SARS, a U.S. dollar that is shrinking against the Canuck buck, Avian Flu – what could we do about any of those things?

But can we really lay all our problems at the feet of Gordon Campbell, Osama bin Laden, God, George Bush and poultry farmers?

My sense is that despite the problems Whistler is facing and the lack of tangible accomplishments in the last three years, a lot of voters feel it’s important this election to preserve the status quo. Not the status quo in terms of people on council – only three members of the current council could be part of the next council – but in general philosophy. A feeling that we have to preserve what we have fought for and achieved. The big plan is in place, we just have to execute it. Trust us.

But there’s a lot happening in the world outside of Whistler’s municipal boundaries that will affect us, and little attention has been paid to it. From Fernie to China; from pine beetles to private sector partnerships, the world around us is changing. Despite the ground-breaking work Whistler has done in some fields, I fear that our community may not be as agile and open to change as it needs to be.

It’s not solely the responsibility of our elected officials and municipal staff to deal with the problems and issues before Whistler now, and to try and anticipate what’s coming down the road – the public has a role to play too. But issues such as the arena fiasco show that municipal hall still needs to work on public engagement.

And perhaps Whistler needs to look at itself a little more critically and question what it has always taken for granted. There has been lots of talk about financial tools and the need for more revenue. There’s been little talk about cutting back expenses. In fact, we continue to demand more services and facilities from our local government.

There’s also a sense among some voters that, with the Olympics on the horizon, someone will show up with more money to help us address whatever problems we determine we have. That may or may not be true, but it’s a dangerous way to operate.

If there’s a message from the last three years it’s that we haven’t come as far as we should have in that time. And why is that? For my money, it’s because collectively we’ve been too complacent; the circle of engagement has become too small; we’ve been too certain that others are responsible for our problems.

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