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Insider’s Guide to Whistler

Museum collaborators reveal favourite local haunts

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Take the Tina Symko tour:

"First, we’re going to Citta’s for some afternoon refreshments, and to get rid of any inhibitions. Then we’re going to ride our bicycles over to the nudie dock."

A mandatory stop on Symko’s tour is a bike ride along the Valley Trail to Rainbow beach, blazing past the River of Golden Dreams, to watch the full moon rising over Alta Lake. Another favourite spot, perfect for sunset watching, is at the Fitzsimmons Creek fan, where the Fitz enters Green Lake.

"It’s not a busy spot. Sometimes when I’m pedalling past on my way home, I’ll see a few people there, or in the morning, doing yoga."

The last stop is to enjoy the best half-price Mexican food in town, at Gaitors, then to head downstairs to a Whistler institution, the Boot. "It can’t be torn down! It’s culture. It’s heritage. It’s Whistler!"

Symko’s passion for sustainability and the environment means she’s acutely aware of the impact new development is having. The major issues on the sustainability agenda, she says, are to create the most sustainable and green Winter Olympics ever, and to protect our remaining green spaces.

Probably a recurring theme in any local’s tour, even if you’ve only been here for a couple of years, is pointing out changes and new developments.

"That’s where the Boot was. There used to be wetlands here, but they built this new condo complex a few years ago…. When I first came here, none of this existed. It was a huge field."

Tim Smith

One long-time Whistler local has seen plenty of these kinds of changes.

"I can’t go to the Whistler Cookie Co anymore and that would have been one of the major stops," says Tim Smith, of the Tim Smith Guided Tour of Whistler.

Over his time in Whistler, Tim Smith has been part of several local institutions: the Blackcomb ski patrol, the Whistler Answer and the short-lived Alta Lake Wild Life Preservation Society, and the 16 Mile Creek renegade squat. That’s enough to give him the status to comment on Whistler culture, or at least its counter-culture.

"The whole area was my favourite place at one time," he said.

Smith arrived in Whistler in 1975 when the Eagles were a super-group, the train station was still operating, and there were less than 500 people skiing the mountain during the week.