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Growing up Whistler at the OCP open house

Passion for community comes out as development cap, secondary industry discussed



It's clear now that the upcoming OCP update will focus on how to preserve and sustain what Whistler has built for itself.

Since the first OCP was completed in 1976, Whistler has been focused on the development of the resort and its tourism industry, with the beacon goal to one day host the Olympics. This has now been achieved, and as 165 residents gathered at the Whistler Conference Centre on Nov. 24 for the RMOW-hosted Official Community Plan update open house to discuss Whistler's future, it was evident that the town has passed through its childhood and is now in its next stage of development.

The question is, how will Whistler transition from a developing resort community to a mature resort community?

"Some of the comments are that this growth has been so fast and so explosive that we don't really know what the implications of it are yet, so it's really smart that we have a cap on development so we can understand what building this place to its ultimate capacity looks like, physically and operationally," said Kevin Damaskie, sustainability coordinator for the RMOW.

Staff was looking for direct feedback from the community on the directions that the OCP is taking. It's been a simple process so far - staff has asked residents what their issues are for moving Whistler forward from this transitory time, to identify some opportunities to deal with the issues, which staff then took and laid out in specific policy contexts that were laid out on placards at the meeting on Nov. 24 for all to see.

Staff will blend the information taken from the open house into 110 proposed general directions across six identified chapter areas for the update, which are economic; climate action, energy and resources; land use and development; natural environment; transportation and infrastructure; quality of life.

The night included a PechaKucha-style presentation by Whistler author Leslie Anthony, who addressed the question, "Who is Whistler?" dressed as his alter-ego, Dr. Hunter Les Thompson. That was followed by group discussions where residents would sit in at one of the six stations to discuss that topic in particular.

Damaskie said that "85 per cent of the proposed directions were generally supported" and people were most responsive and enthusiastic about maintaining and enforcing the development cap; restricting development to existing developed areas; ensuring the biodiversity of the natural areas, which are vital to the resort experience.

There was also much discussion of second industry outside of tourism, and Damaskie said there were diverse ideas of what second industry would look like. The general feeling is that secondary industry that would fit into the already-built environment, including education and other knowledge-based industries.

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