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Feature - Balancing the ledger

Council accomplishments and… works in progress

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The priorities set out in Whistler 2002 are:

• Building a stronger resort community;

• Enhancing the Whistler experience;

• Working towards environmental sustainability;

• Achieving financial sustainability;

• Contributing to the success of the region.

Another significant step taken by council shortly after their 1996 election was the establishment of the Whistler Housing Authority. One of the big issues in the ’96 election was the housing fund, which then sat at about $6 million, based on surcharges collected from commercial developments.

When the housing authority was established its primary goal was to use the housing fund to build resident-restricted housing. Today the Whistler Housing Authority owns and manages five housing projects, with 165 rental units. With the housing fund virtually exhausted, the WHA’s focus has shifted, from development to administration and planning.

In the 1999 election the entire council was returned, with one exception: Nancy Wilhelm-Morden decided not to seek a second consecutive term and Nick Davies was elected.

Hugh O’Reilly said of the 1999 election results and the previous three years: "We’ve annoyed some people… but we’ve learned some lessons. It’s a vote of confidence, we’re on the right track. We can start to implement some of the building blocks we’ve been working on."

The 1999 election marked the first time there had been any sort of significant split between part-time and full-time Whistler residents. The divisive issue was nightly rental of properties that aren’t zoned for tourist accommodation. While there no longer appears to be a split between full-time and part-time residents on nightly rentals, the meeting at Myrtle Philip school two weeks ago showed that regulating tourist accommodation is an issue that still hasn’t been resolved.

When the last council was sworn in O’Reilly said the issues that stood out in the campaign were: communication, community involvement, the Olympic bid, nightly rentals, the Emerald sewer, the cap on development and its future, partners in the community, affordability, and transportation.

"I believe many of these issues can and will be addressed in the framework of the vision, the long-term financial plan and the business plan," the mayor said. "I know the significance and impact of these long-range plans are still emerging, but I believe they are powerful tools that will enable us to find solutions to issues and meet our community goals."