Opinion » Editorial


Whistler is different things to different people, which is about as profound as saying Spuzzum is different things to different people. Every town in the world is unique in its own ways, and every person sees each town in their own way. What’s unusual about Whistler is that it is open to and of such interest to so many people: those who live here a season, those who make their permanent home here, those who live here part time, those who visit. On Saturday night a number of people showed something of what Whistler means to them. Most prominent of these were the Young and Barker families, which donated $2 million to the Millennium Place project. Millennium Place, as many people know, is the community building planned for the lot next to municipal hall. It will house an interfaith chapel, a performing arts centre, child care facility, studios, meeting rooms and other community space. The project is driven by a board of volunteers who believe in the project’s importance to the community. The Young and Barker families were owners of Whistler Mountain Ski Corp. for 17 years, until the 1996 merger with Intrawest. Maurice Young, described as the patriarch of the two families, contributed millions of dollars to various causes, including a centre for ethics at UBC. He passed away last September at the age of 75. In recognition of the donation from the Young and Barker families, Millennium Place has been renamed the Maurice Young Millennium Place. In addition to the Young and Barker families’ donation of $2 million, the Chan Foundation has donated $300,000 to the Millennium Place project, the Whistler-Blackcomb Foundation has promised $400,000, the municipality has chipped in with $300,000 and half of the money raised by the Association of Whistler Realtors and community members at Saturday night’s Festival of Lights will be donated to the project. The thread which links all of these families, foundations and individuals who have contributed to Millennium Place, or to the new Community Foundation of Whistler or previously helped fund the medical centre or minor hockey or any of a hundred other causes, is not financial wealth but a sense of responsibility to the community. That contrasts with the shameless sense of "me first" that has been seen in some corners of Whistler recently. For example, those people who have decided not to rent their suites to employees for the first couple of months of winter, instead hoping to cash in on tourists who will pay exorbitant rates during the Christmas-New Year’s Eve period. The recent municipal election provided examples of people who were interested in protecting their little world — which in itself is fine — but at the expense of or regardless of the consequences to the rest of Whistler. Whatever success Whistler has had as a resort and as a community is as a result of people who have looked beyond just their personal interests.