Former Whistler councillor Ralph Forsyth has added his name to those planning to run for council in this October’s election.
Forsyth served as councillor from 2005 to 2011, and said he felt compelled to run again to help address Whistler’s housing woes.
“When I was on the council in 2011, we built a lot of housing … rents were low, property prices were realistic and all was pretty good,” Forsyth said. “That was when the town was 10,000 people, and now, flash forward seven years later, we’re at (almost 12,000), and we haven’t built a lick of new housing.”
To address the community’s key challenges of housing and affordability, Forsyth sees zoning as a key tool for the municipality.
“The only tool … that council really has is zoning, so intensifying zoning and densification in existing neighbourhoods, and building more,” he said.
“Certainly the Athletes Village and Cheakamus Crossing was built for that purpose, and there’s stuff underway, but you can’t continue to grow the town and not grow the housing stock. It’s just simple math.
“When you look at the price escalations, and/or the gentrification of our neighbourhoods, the solution is aggressively building more housing.”
Having served on the council that adopted the community’s Whistler 2020 guiding document, Forsyth also believes it’s a good time to revisit the plan.
“It’s almost 2020 and we haven’t updated it. Council is all hung up on this OCP (Official Community Plan) and everything, but Whistler 2020 was what guided our decisions when it came to OCPs,” he said. “So we had a plan, and I feel like we’ve abandoned it to some extent, and we need to just get back to that and get the community involved more.”
Seven years after he last sat at the council table, Forsyth said his key priorities remain the same—a focus on families, and making Whistler livable for those who want to build a life here.
“I really hope that those kids felt that, if they wanted to (stay), Whistler was a viable option for them—that there was going to be meaningful career opportunities, that they would one day be able to buy a house and raise a family here,” Forsyth said. “I think we’re in jeopardy of losing that, and that’s what I find very compelling.”
A longtime ski instructor and entrepreneur, as well as a husband and father of two, Forsyth has been involved in the community through various boards and committees since his first season here in 1991, including the Whistler Advisory Planning Commission, the Whistler 2020 Advisory Committee, Resident Housing Task Force, Chamber of Commerce Service Strategy Committee and more.
“Those conversations that you have with the other volunteers—and not just the volunteers at the board level but the lady stacking the shelves or the people working at the coat check at Cornucopia to raise money—those are the things that keep you in touch with the community and keep your ear to the ground,” Forsyth said.
Forsyth joins retired schoolteacher Dawn Titus and incumbent Jen Ford in the race for a council seat.
Incumbent councillor Jack Crompton will run for mayor.
The nomination period runs from Sept. 4 to 14. Those interested in running can find more info at www.elections.bc.ca.
Find more on Forsyth’s campaign at www.ralphforsyth.com.