Opinion » Editorial


Bridging polar extremes



I’m concerned about what seems to be a polarized split in the community…. clearly the business community doesn’t feel like it’s being served by the mayor, by municipal hall, by council or by the combination of all three…. And one of the things that I think needs to happen is to reach out to that sector, to try and end that polarization – not end it, but maybe mend it.

— mayor-elect Ken Melamed

Here, here. Reaching out, coming together is what Whistler needs to do right now, for its own good.

The country is in the first stages of a 50-plus day federal election where all the problems, divisions, fears and frustrations that make us Canadian will be exposed and anguished over before we go to the polls again on Jan. 23 – and likely re-elect another minority government. The process of trying to bring Canada together again will, like all kinds of legislation that died on the order paper Monday, be on hold until Jan. 24.

Meanwhile, in Victoria the early spirit of civility and co-operation between the Liberals and the NDP is threatened by the bungled wage increase and new pension plan MLAs voted for themselves. NDP leader Carole James may have won some points with the public for her last-minute change of heart and scuttling of the deal, but she didn’t further trust or confidence between the two parties, or even within her own party.

Of course the way both parties conspired to quietly raise their wages didn’t do anything to heal the rift between teachers and other public sector employees and the government.

Locally, the results of last month’s civic elections suggest the people of Squamish are uneasy about the massive changes that are taking place in their community. Only one of the four incumbent Squamish New Directions councillors was re-elected and Terrill Patterson, who challenged Ian Sutherland for the mayor’s job primarily because no one else would, did surprisingly well at the polls.

And in Whistler the split in the community was reflected in the vote totals for Ted Nebbeling and mayor-elect Ken Melamed. The election is over and it’s time to move on, but as Melamed rightly pointed out, the gap between the two camps needs to be bridged.

It’s a gap that extends beyond the two main personalities in the race for mayor. Last week’s Chamber of Commerce Spirit Luncheon featured former Intrawest executive Ed Pitoniak, who returned with an outsider’s perspective of Whistler. His message, at least in part, was: deal with issues and move on, rather than wallowing in studies and self-examination. Tellingly, some people thought Pitoniak’s speech was exactly what Whistler needed, while some people dismissed it as more free advice from someone who doesn’t really know Whistler.

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