Features & Images » Feature Story

Feature - Balancing the ledger

Council accomplishments and… works in progress



Three years is a long time in Whistler.

Whistler years are not quite the same as dog years, but sometimes it seems like we cram seven times more stuff into 12 months than does the rest of the world.

Three years ago the asking price on a studio unit in the village was $150,000. A month ago the listed price on a similar unit was $320,000.

In the fall of 1999 a house sold for a Whistler record $3.48 million. Earlier this year Whistler had its first $1 million tear-down, in Whistler Cay Heights.

In the last three years we’ve come to have some understanding of what a successful Olympic bid will mean to Whistler. We’ve also been through a passionate debate on hosting the World Economic Forum. Large so-called trophy homes have become the thing to build. The supply of resident-restricted housing has increased, but housing is still a problem for employees and employers. The Millennium Place community facility was built and the arts council’s role expanded, all in the past 36 months.

On Nov. 16 voters will be asked to look at the ledger of accomplishments and works in progress, consider how it balances, and then choose the people who will make decisions on Whistler’s behalf over the next three years from among 18 candidates for council and two candidates for mayor.

To help with the accounting, what follows is a review of some of the major issues and decisions that got us to where we are today.

Actually, a recap of the accomplishments of the current municipal council should go back to nearly ancient Whistler history, six years ago (42-dog years) when the present council – with the exception of Councillor Nick Davies – was first constituted.

In 1996, after eight years as a councillor, Hugh O’Reilly was elected mayor and Councillors Ted Milner, Ken Melamed and Stephanie Sloan were elected for the first time. Kristi Wells and Dave Kirk were re-elected in 1996.

But perhaps just as significant as the elected council was the appointment in the fall of 1996 of administrator Jim Godfrey. Godfrey was instrumental in developing the Whistler 2002 vision document, which itself was a product of the 1996 review of Whistler’s municipal procedures, done by independent consultants Urban Systems. That review found that Whistler’s 1994 Comprehensive Development Plan and annual town hall meetings established a clear set of goals or "mini vision" statements, but no clear, single vision or mission statement to guide the local government.

The Whistler 2002 document, which was developed between 1996 and 1999, provided that vision. At the time of the last municipal election Whistler 2002 was a working document. Since then the long-term financial plan and the business plan, which accompany the Whistler 2002 document, have taken shape. Today the Whistler 2002 document and its guiding principles are referenced virtually every time an issue comes to council.