By Vivian Moreau
It wasn’t dust that made David Demers’ eyes water at the Whistler Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon held at The Den restaurant in Nicklaus North on Dec. 13. It was the surprise announcement that chamber had named him Whistler’s businessperson of the year.
“I get pretty emotional over this kind of thing,” Demers said. “It’s one of those things when you give so hard to the community and then a group of people nominate you, it’s pretty special.”
Scott Carrell, last year’s winner, announced Demers as the winner, introducing him as an employer with a big heart who overcame a serious ski injury and extensive rehabilitation in the late 1990s to carry on as a successful hotelier, opening the Sundial Boutique Hotel in 2003.
“The staff room in the hotel is as important to Dave as his own living room at home,” Carrell said, adding that Demers “sweats the small stuff.”
Demers, who was raised in Montreal and went to school at the University of New Brunswick, has lived in Whistler since 1980 starting as a ski shop employee and then striking out as an entrepreneur with a windsurfing shop and several property rental firms. Demers and wife Sharon have one son, Cole. Along the way Demers said he became aware of the need for community leaders.
“I think there’s a time when you wonder who’s going to take hold of issues that are out there and I felt over the years from being here and watching it was time to finally give back and give some insight into what I had seen and I thought I had some time and I wanted to see things happen.”
Demers also thanked the Sundial’s 35 staff for their support, saying he wouldn’t be who he was without them.
In addition to the businessperson of the year award, the chamber elected 13 directors to the board from 14 nominated. In a change from previous years that required voting on officers, a new bylaw allows directors to choose officers from within their voting body. This year a formal paper ballot also took place rather than a show of hands.
While ballots were being counted chamber president Louise Lundy gave a run down of the chamber’s accomplishments this year, noting that 780 members were signed up as of Dec. 13 and over 3,700 Spirit Passes had been issued, a record for the chamber.
Chamber chairperson Mike Wintemute spoke at the gathering calling for a more concerted voice for the chamber, saying the business group must be more vocal in expressing positions on business development to council. He noted that although the chamber had opposed rezoning that would allow large stores into the community it had not been clear as to the reasons behind the opposition.