News » Whistler

Election Question ~ #2

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On Nov. 16, Whistler residents will go to the polls to vote for a mayor and six municipal councillors for the next three years.

To enlighten voters and clarify what the 20 different candidates stand for, Pique is running a four-part series during the election.

For the first two parts (Oct. 18 and 25 issues), candidates were given 200 words each to answer questions on the Whistler. It’s Our Future process and the Olympics posed by the Pique.

The last two parts (Nov. 1 and Nov. 8 issues) are the candidate profiles in which all of the contenders will have an opportunity to discuss priorities and present their election platforms to the voters.

In addition, Pique will continue to provide election coverage of campaign events such as the Chamber of Commerce all-candidates meeting on Nov. 2, and the WORCA/Pique candidates meeting on Oct. 29.

Question 2:

"How will the Olympic bid help or hurt Whistler?"

(Answers are in reverse order from last week.)

Hugh O’Reilly – Candidate for Mayor Throughout the development of the 2010 Olympic Bid, my strongest commitment has been to maintain Whistler as a strong, vibrant community. I believe the 2010 Olympic Bid provides some amazing opportunities to address two of the community's biggest concerns – housing and affordability. Win or lose, Whistler comes out on top.

1) Whether the 2010 Bid is successful or not, Whistler is guaranteed up to 300 acres of Crown Land for resident housing. This is land which would never have been available to the community without the Bid.

2) The Provincial Government is committed to looking at how it can provide resort communities with financial tools to address affordability concerns. These additional funds would enable us to maintain and improve our current programs and services, while enhancing the visitor experience. Whistler won't end up paying extra for the Games. Any additional costs to the community will be picked up by the organizing committee’s budget or the Provincial Government. And property taxes will not be raised to pay for the Games.

The 2010 Bid goes beyond supporting the success of Whistler as a community, it is an opportunity for Whistler to take a leadership role at an international level.

Dave Davenport – Candidate for Mayor

I sit as a board member of the 2010 Olympic Bid and have done so because I believe the Olympics can deliver tremendous benefits to the community of Whistler. The recent declines of Aspen, Vail and Sun Valley have educated us to how the over reliance on past success will quickly lead to both economic and social degradation. The Olympic focus on sport, culture and the environment will go a long way to sustaining the success of our community for a long time to come.

However, winning the Olympic Games will demand much stronger management skills of the next mayor and council. Protecting the legacies we have been offered and acquiring the many more we require will be an ongoing task for all of the next eight years. Hard and diligent work combined with tough negotiating will be necessary with both the organizing committee and senior levels of government.

Yet not winning the bid would not relieve the new council of a tremendous workload. The problems of affordability, economic renewal and protection of the environment rage on and they must be addressed quickly. Even without an Olympic event we must start taking the necessary actions to protect the community of Whistler.

Rick André – Candidate for Council

The Olympic and Paralympic winter games are a great idea, for the new facilities they will bring to Whistler will inspire our young people to lead a healthier lifestyle.

However, what concerns me is the possibility that rents will increase and strata fees will also do the same. I hope to work with the community to ensure the local businesses do not get forced out for the games.

The athletes village in the Callaghan Valley will help for the meantime but during the two weeks of the Games people will be forced out of their homes to accommodate the athletes, so in my opinion we have a major problem. We need to look at what will happen and where we will be able to house our employees during the games.

Another problem is the highway closures, and the loss of business in the years before the Games. We must work as a community to find the answers to our problems. We must find more incentives to be able to keep our long-term employees here longer.

I hope to help the community better itself.

Kristi Wells – Candidate for Council

The Olympic Bid process has been extremely valuable to Whistler. In addition to the legacies we have negotiated for today, with or without winning the Games, we have solidified and upheld our collective vision of who we are on a world stage and what is most valued to us. By sincerely participating in the bid process to date we have created an incredible catalyst for moving forward the priorities on our community agenda. This bid has taken some of our strategic plans and visions and brought them to a tangible place of realization. This process hasn’t planned our community for us, every potential legacy has been previously identified in our strategic documents, CDP and vision statements. We are not being asked to do or be anything that we hadn’t anticipated and planned for. There are still many challenges to rise to. Whistler is not insulated from failure – the wave of success we are riding is just that – a wave. We must capitalize on these types of opportunities, weigh them against our vision and values, and strive to protect our fragile market share. I believe in the Olympics for Whistler. If not this, What? – and if not now – When?

Marianne Wade – Candidate for Council

The process that led to the bid endorsement Monday night has engaged the community into dialogue about its future and this dialogue has just started.

The community has demanded that our next council address the social, economic, and environmental impacts of the Olympics on our community.

The land bank legacy is not the solution to our current housing issues; it is the proposed solution to the housing issue that the Olympics will generate.

Creating a "Satellite Village" to house our employees is a planning concept that died with the public housing projects of the fifties that were blown up in the seventies as they were deemed unhealthy environments. This concept needs to be re-examined.

The endowment fund assists in the long-term operations of both the Nordic and Sliding Centres. To achieve the long-term success of these facilities, a fiscal plan is required which; identifies market share, outlines a marketing program to achieve estimated share, revenue projections, and operating costs. Fiscal planning starts now. Revenue has to start the day after the Olympics.

The Olympics can be good for this community but our CDP/OCP must be updated, along with a growth management plan and an integrated land use plan.

Amar Varma – Candidate for Council

The Olympic bid process is very good for Whistler. It provides a wide variety of legacies, even if we are unsuccessful in getting the Olympics.

The bid process provides Whistler an opportunity to take a very good look at ourselves and how we want our future to be shaped, to see what our "needs" and "wants" are. With these legacies in place now, it puts us in a better position to make decisions for the future of our community. The Olympic bid also provides us with a fantastic venue to show our village to the world as a world class resort, not just a ski resort.

To maintain Whistler as a place which is vibrant, and a world class resort we must realize that what we need in Whistler is affordable housing for the people that live here and work here full time as residents.

We must develop a plan to bring down the rental prices or increase the rental base in the village of Whistler without creating ghetto communities outside the village.

The Olympic bid will ensure that these issues are maintained as a focus in our community as we strive forward to attain the Olympic committee approval.

Stephanie Sloan – Candidate for Council

When Council decided to support the domestic Bid, we were endorsing a process. As a Council member, I knew we had many hours of community consultation and negotiation with the Province and Bid Committee before we could formally endorse the Bid. After four years of hard work on behalf of our community, I voted in support of endorsing the Bid for the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics.

The highlights of our negotiations to date are the following:

$300 million dollars in Lasting Legacies and Legacy Funding, an indemnity agreement between Whistler and the Province which ensures that Whistler taxpayers will not be liable for Olympic costs, and new financial tools that will take pressure off property taxpayers.

We have demanded a small-scale Olympics to be managed based on our Guiding Principles and Strategic Planning documents. The Olympics will not dictate our future, but will continue to accelerate initiatives we’ve already taken.

Hosting the Alpine, Nordic, Bob/Luge, Art and Cultural Events will boost our community spirit and pride and our children will have the opportunity to become involved with a once in a lifetime event.

Hosting the 2010 Winter Games is an unbelievable opportunity for Whistler, one that we can’t afford to loose.

Mitch Rhodes – Candidate for Council

The gains or losses associated with the Bid will be measured by Whistler’s response to the challenges and opportunities presented. Let’s seize the opportunity and have a public vote on the Olympics.

At Monday’s special Council meeting, Terry Wright, VP Bid Development stated, "Forcing the Bid to incorporate Whistler’s Guiding Principles has made for a better Bid." Yes it has! With no disrespect to the good work that’s been done on guiding principles and legacies, let’s once again force the Bid to be better by having a public vote.

If people had an opportunity to vote, they’d be motivated to discover the facts and less likely to stick to positions–for or against. A vote would engage both community and Bid in widespread, two-way, purposeful dialogue – a benefit to both Whistler and the Bid.

Without a vote, if the Bid is successful, there will be loud and legitimate dissension for the next eight years. Let’s avoid that by having a vote now.

The Bid and Council view a public vote as unnecessary. I see it as a brilliant opportunity for all voters to have their voice heard. Let’s move forward confidently together.

Chris Quinlan – Candidate for Council

The overall Olympic Package reeks of benefits for Whistler. Indemnification, the land bank, exposure to new markets, and the ideal of the Olympics as portrayed in the eyes of our medallists are more than considerable benefits to the community.

Unfortunately, the opportunity to address the concerns of residents and local business owners regarding affordability and, through that, the true sustainability of the "spirit of Whistler", the community has been left in a state of uncertainty.

The Mayor and council were unable to confirm whether the financial tools, beyond those which will be available to all communities through the new Community Charter, were attained. These tools, touted as one of the four criteria for the endorsement of the bid, are desperately needed by the community. These tools would allow for the most immediate solution to the issues of affordability for residents and small businesses without the need to expand our boundaries or infrastructure. It gravely concerns me that six of the seven representatives on council contradicted themselves and stated that we attained these tools. This hurts Whistler. We must ensure that the council which guides us through the next stage is more honest with themselves and the community.

Shelley Phelan – Candidate for Council

I firmly support the Olympic Bid. Having experienced the Calgary Olympics firsthand in ’88, it remains one of the highlights of my life. A well-managed Olympic Games can not only be done profitably with lasting legacies (the benefits of which speak for themselves), but the way an event like this can galvanize, excite and energize a community goes beyond words.

The opportunity for our kids to volunteer alongside us at these Games is a thrilling prospect, as is the fact that many of our young athletes will be peaking at about that time. Anyone who watched Rob Boyd race to World Cup victory here in 1989 can attest to the incredible sense of pride and spirit that this community basked in long after the race was over.

Now imagine such a stunning win at our own Olympic Games. Or imagine Ross’s gold…on home turf! The phenomenal inspiration to younger athletes, or any child with even a ray of hope, is a priceless legacy.

The naysayers of the Olympic Bid can’t see the "big picture" – the way an event like this can permanently bolster not only the provincial economy, but the morale, pride and spirit of this community.

Tyler Mosher – Candidate for Council

The Olympic Bid helps Whistler by:

Promoting our resort to people around the world;

Providing a Sports Training Centre that encourages excellence in Winter Sports;

Enabling Whistler to strengthen its partnerships with the provincial and federal governments, Sea to Sky corridor neighbours and First Nations;

Pursuing the expansion of municipal boundaries for environmental protection, affordable housing and recreational pursuits;

Helping us plan what we want Whistler to be in the future as a Community, an international resort destination and a place where nature is at our doorstep.

The major problems include increased traffic and traffic delays, further development pressure on existing housing and infrastructure and a possible rise in day-to-day expenses. I will work hard to prevent the Olympics from harming our lifestyle, businesses and pocket books.

The Olympic Bid process will help Whistler become a better place to live and visit regardless of being awarded the games. Whistler was built on the Olympic Dream and I want to see it come true. If we get the Olympics, I want our local boys and girls here today, on the podium in 2010. To host part of the Olympic games would be an honour and pleasure.

Ted Milner – Candidate for Council

$300 million in lasting legacies, indemnity protection against extra or overrun costs, financial tools and expanded boundaries, along with world-wide advertising and promotion, are offered in the Bid endorsement package. This is highly compelling.

The risks, and they’re there, must be managed.

Senior government will handle security and geopolitical concerns.

Whistler has to develop protection for accommodation renter and owner costs. We have to protect small business as well as large organizations. Community impacts have to be managed.

It’s easy to say no. It’s vastly more difficult to create, manage and shape a venture that can catalyze big gains for Whistler – a venture that can give us huge employee housing, sustainability and affordability initiatives.

We are only at a point along a 13-year path. There is a lot of planning, community consultation and hard work to do in the next eight years.

It’s harder to build something but infinitely more rewarding beyond money.

My son is 13 and a K2 ski racer. My daughter,12, is a singer – you may have heard her.

His goal is to compete in the 2010 Games. She wants to sing at the Medal Ceremonies.

They expect the Games to be here.

I want that, too

I endorse the Bid!

Ken Melamed – Candidate for Council

The Olympics supporters want us to grow our way to Sustainability. This is an enormous contradiction and an insult to the Comprehensive Sustainability process.

The pursuit of Sustainability requires the equal balance of Economic, Social and Environmental needs.

The economy is challenged, but business is still very good. The Environment is threatened, but has a plan which needs action. However, the Social fabric of the community is collapsing at an ever alarming rate.

Most of the touted legacies to come from the games are economic, while the environment receives none. And the trends that are creating the decline of liveability in Whistler will be pressurized by the hype associated with the games; such as rising house prices and rents, tear downs (a supply of diverse housing stock is the key to a diverse population), overcrowding, the increase in exclusive stores and restaurants, and loss of market employee housing.

An extreme imbalance exists in the three areas of sustainability, which will only worsen with the games. Instead of diverting energy to hosting the glamorous games, we should bear down on solving our existing problems now.

Gord McKeever – Candidate for Council

Congratulations to Mayor and Councillors for your roles in shaping Whistler’s position within the 2010 bid. We’ve reached the end of this defining stage very favourably. Thank you. How we got here is a matter I’ll leave for others on this page to debate.

Looking to the triple bottom line, in light of Monday’s presentation:

* Economically, hundreds of millions worth of federal, provincial and overseas money and benefits come directly to Whistler and, yes, we really do need the global exposure to ensure our long-term viability. The indemnification looks great.

* Environmentally, the biggest gain is the global platform to promote and display sustainable practices.

* Socially, the games are good for the world, for Canada and for B.C. Locally, many of us may well count Whistler’s Olympic participation as one of life’s highlights.

Certainly, it will be disruptive to our daily lives. So is Christmas. It will probably feel more like a month of New Year’s Eves. Worthwhile ambitions often aren’t easy. The Games will take the co-operation and combined efforts of our whole community.

Certainly there’s a risk that things may go wrong. This is a big, challenging task. It will require effort, inspiration and vigilance. We’re up to it.

Caroline Lamont – Candidate for Council

The Olympics will be an asset to Whistler provided Council ensures that there will be a responsible implementation strategy.

First, the Municipality must effectively distribute the recently released Bid information to residents, stakeholders and businesses.

Second, the Municipality must initiate a community-based program that will ensure that the 2010 Olympics will be implemented as proposed.

Third, decision-makers must engage both proponents and opponents of the Olympics to ensure that all possible issues are on the table and will be addressed, specifically including:

* The sustainability of the stand-alone athlete’s village/resident housing and ski jumps in the Callaghan.

* Transportation improvements that respect the environmental, recreational and scenic assets of the corridor.

* Environmental legacies that are consistent with the direction of the Municipal Environmental Strategy.

* A plan to anticipate and manage the social, financial and security impacts of the event on the community and business.

* Financial tools and policy decisions that will enhance our unique community character.

Fourth, it is also imperative to move forward and complete the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan to ensure that the Olympic plans will be consistent with Whistler’s long term needs.

David Kirk – Candidate for Council

The 2010 Olympic Games bid process has been long and gnarly and full of challenges. In 1997 when Tourism Vancouver approached RMOW to participate in a shared bid, little was understood but the opportunity needed to be considered.

Through a very public process and guiding principles, the basis on which we would participate in the bid process, were established. Whistler’s vision and values were upheld.

Council established a list of lasting legacies expected to be delivered just for participating. Some will potentially help Whistler resolve some normal, and not so normal, ongoing issues and will be of lasting value for residents and business.

Of special significance:

A Land Bank of 300 acres for resident (employee) housing and associated uses – daycare, firehall etc.

Financial Tools, which would see the vision share in the financial cost of supporting the resort (a tax). One of the purposes would be to help fund affordability programs as well as infrastructure maintenance. Concepts and implementation will be determined by local plebiscite.

Boundary Expansion is least understood publicly. RMOW has received a commitment from the B.C. government to pursue expansion of our boundaries in conjunction with stakeholders such as First Nations.

Win or lose, Whistler wins.

Ralph Forsyth – Candidate for Council

Aside from the legacy package, I believe that bidding for the Olympics will benefit Whistler by the opportunities it presents.

We have the opportunity to come to some kind of reconciliation with our First Nations people by having them integrated, as full partners, in the bid process.

We have the opportunity to rally the community around a common goal. I am enthusiastic about engaging the members of the community who currently do not support the bid. I hope their passion for Whistler can guide us as we create a bid that the whole community can support.

We have the opportunity to usher in a new era of bid transparency; this will be our legacy for the nations that will follow us in their own attempt to host the Olympic games.

We have the opportunity to gain from competition, just like our athletes, to know the exhilaration of being involved in something that's very demanding, to know the joy that comes from being involved with something that challenges our minds and our spirit.

The bid process offers us the chance to produce our very finest.

Let’s show our confidence, embrace the challenge, and show the world how great we can be!

Nicholas Davies – Candidate for Council

Simply put, the social, economic and environmental legacies of the Games will far outweigh the negative impacts. The impacts will not offend a reasonable, balanced view of our community values.

But this question asks about the Bid, not the Games. The Bid has already "helped" Whistler. The debate surrounding the Bid has included a debate about who and what we are. Many of the comments at the Special Council Meeting painted a picture of a community living in guilt and fear — guilt for our successes and our imperfections, fear of the future and what others might do to us, and fear of what we might do to ourselves.

While claiming the moral high ground, those speakers paint a dark and dismal picture of a community that exists only in their imaginations. That cannot be the Whistler we cherish.

When 90 per cent of the crowd voted "Yes" at the Special Council Meeting, that moment illustrated the very essence of our community. When we host the Games, we will celebrate our community and our culture with the World. We will share our particular brand of humanity. The Bid has given us a more profound understanding of who we are, and what Whistler is.

Bob Calladine –Candidate for Council

Our council has voted to support the Olympic 2010 bid and I feel that our community should now start to support this bid.

Although there was neither a referendum nor any other democratic vehicle to voice doubt or opposition, support from all of the community will become more imperative should the ‘bid’ win.

There are still many problems to overcome but we have eight years to work them to our advantage. I hope that much of the ‘hype’ has lots of reality. I know that I haven’t answered the question but I feel that it is now ‘passe’ and we must move on.

Shane Bennett – Candidate for Council

The Olympics are a world-class event where athletes (Olympians) compete at sports events on behalf of their country, not a city or municipality.

The Olympic Bid is where countries/cities compete to have the privilege to host this sports event. In my youth I dreamt of representing Canada as an amateur freestyle skiing athlete, but at the time I stopped competing, the Olympic committee was just discussing it as a demonstration sport.

Personally, I think it would be really cool to have a luge. But $55,000,000.00 for a luge when Calgary has one and our Peacekeepers and soldiers don’t have ceramic flack jackets doesn’t make sense.

We are at WAR right now, remember? In 2010 the technology will be such that events could be edited real time to make them look like they are anywhere. It would be frugal and financially astute to not duplicate infrastructure that is suitable and available in Canada for this athletic sporting event. Travelling 800 miles to Calgary by air is safer than driving to Whistler. The Olympics has had a long sad history of corruption and unethical conduct we need to get our own house in order and protection from the corporate jockeying/bullying that is already hurting some of us.