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Feature - Whistler council at the halfway mark

A year and a half into their elected term, how has Whistler council fared in relation to its priorities?

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In February 2003, fresh with the excitement of being chosen to lead Whistler for the next three years, council outlined their goals in a strategic planning workshop. Their top five priorities were identified as: • Whistler. It’s Our Future, CSP; • Transition Strategy (until the CSP was completed); • Affordability and Affordable Housing; • Financial Sustainability/Tools; and • Provincial Relationships.

Now they are half way through their term.

All seven members of council sat down with Pique Newsmagazine recently to talk about this council’s progress to date in relation to those five priorities. Here’s what they shared.

By Alison Taylor

After almost eight years at Whistler’s helm, Mayor Hugh O’Reilly can honestly say this term has been his toughest to date.

"I would say it has been harder (than the previous two terms), there’s no doubt," said O’Reilly, during a recent interview in his office at municipal hall.

It’s not just that the slower economic times are adding pressure throughout the resort. Or that Whistler has reached a critical point in its growth and difficult choices about the future are on the table.

But rather, O’Reilly’s council hasn’t "gelled" or come together as a cohesive force, as it has in previous terms and as such, frustrations abound on all sides.

Now, halfway through their term, council is at a crossroads, recognizing that if they are to work more effectively together for the next year and a half, they must start to put some differences aside.

Looking at the top five priorities laid out in February 2003, which included the CSP, financial tools and affordable housing, members of council had mixed feelings about their results to date.

"A year and a half has gone quickly," said Councillor Kristi Wells, who is currently serving her fourth term on council.

"I don’t feel much of a sense of accomplishment as a team."

The accomplishments however, are not as obvious as they have been in years past, said Councillor Gordon McKeever, who was newly elected in November 2002.

"This is very much a planning council," he maintained.

"A planning term is not going to be a term that you see a lot happen."

A year and a half ago the community delivered a clear message through the polls that they were looking for change.

Three new councillors, Caroline Lamont, McKeever and Marianne Wade, were added to a team of three veterans and the mayor, bringing with them a significant amount of experience in community planning and a breath of fresh air to local politics.

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