By Pique Staff and Special Contributors
It's no secret that Whistler is in the doldrums right about now - or we should say "back in the doldrums," as about five of the last eight years since 9/11 have been troubled in one way or another. If governments aren't changing I.D. requirements at the border, it's either raining in February or a livestock flu mutates and goes pandemic. So far the Olympics have been more hassle than halcyon, although we can still hope that one day it will all be worth it.
The recent economic crisis is no picnic. Jobs are suddenly scarce in a town where everybody used to be able to work two or three jobs if they wanted (or, frequently, needed), but that hasn't helped to free up beds or lower rental rates. The cost of living remains sky-high, probably the highest in the country.
To make matters worse, the weather - long Whistler's most dependable friend - has betrayed us somewhat. This past winter was terrible, at least until March rolled around, and it came on the heels of a cold, grey summer - our second poor summer in a row if you're keeping track.
This summer has been beautiful so far, although a drought creates its own problems as the people of Kelowna could probably tell you - the last time it was this dry the province closed access to the backcountry to guard against forest fires.
But while Whistler has seen good times and bad times over the decades, it's important to remember that it's mostly been good. If it wasn't then Whistler would probably be a far different and less interesting place to live.
It isn't that hard times are anything new. Talk to anyone who has been here 30 years or more and they'll tell you about the recession in the early '80s when mortgage rates jumped to more than 20 per cent, and the value of homes and land plummeted. At the time there was a popular joke in Vancouver, "Q: What's better to have, syphilis or a house in Whistler? A: Syphilis, because at least you can get rid of it."
A lot of people still clung onto their properties and their belief in what Whistler was and could be, and all were rewarded for their vision. Some have even become wealthy, snapping up properties for thousands that today sell for millions. Whistler emerged from that crisis and every crisis since stronger than ever, on a path to becoming the leading four season resort in North America and one of the leading resort destinations in the world.