Features & Images » Feature Story

Ken Achenbach, candidate for council.

We have to think ‘different’ and ‘best in the world’


Name: Ken Achenbach

Age: 41

Website: www.kenach4council.com

Occupation: Camp of Champions Summer Camp Director, co-owner of Powder Mountain Catskiing.

Last book read: Plot Against America by Philip Roth and Fight the Power by Chuck D.

What music are you listening to these days: I have about 120 gigs on my hard drive, so everything is probably the best answer.

Favourite recreational pursuits: Snowboarding, surfing, mountain biking, skateboarding, riding BMX, dirt biking and skiing – pretty much everything you can do in Whistler.

1. Why are you running for council?

I’ve always had an opinion on what’s going on in town, and because I deal with so many people from all over the world, and I get to see their impressions of Whistler, both when they arrive and when they leave, I have a good outsider’s perspective of this town. With all my years in Whistler I also have the residents’ view of Whistler. I can see what needs to be done, have great ideas to make the town better and I want to be the one that helps get it done.

2. What are the biggest issues facing Whistler?

We have to have housing for our residents, and I don’t want to call it staff housing because that implies some kind of worker ghetto. We need good housing for people to live and work in Whistler.

We need to build an apartment building or two so we have an entry-level price, and we have to have the ability for people with large lots to split them up so we can have some medium-sized houses as well.

Why are we always looking at Aspen? We have to look at resorts like Chamonix, like Verbier, where there is a mix of housing.

Putting an apartment building on Lot 1/Lot 9 when we build an arena is going to bring residents back to Whistler. That’s what’s missing. We blame the lack of tourists, we blame 9/11, but the biggest reason we’re taking it in the teeth right now is that that our residents are gone. Ninety per cent of the people I know moved to Squamish or Pemberton.

The second issue is that Tourism Whistler has to work more closely with Intrawest to get the true image of what Whistler is out there. We have the best skiing in the world and people want to come here we just need to show them how.

The third thing is that we need more to do on a rainy day. That’s where the surf park idea comes in.

3. What needs to be done to address those issues?

People have to be able to see what’s going on, and council has to be willing to make decisions. We can’t send everything to committee all the time.

Whistler is at the point where we have to make things happen. We’ve talked for three years. Now it’s time to get things done.

I think we’re making easy decisions controversial. That’s what happens when you wait and wait, and you suddenly have to make big decisions with a gun to your head. The Olympics are getting closer, it’s another season where people don’t have anywhere to live, where it if rains there’s nothing else to do in the village. A lot of things need to get done, so let’s start doing them.

I’ve been to a lot of resorts and seen what happens when people with special interests get in the way of the town. The town has to come first. To borrow from Kennedy, we shouldn’t be asking what Whistler can do for us but what we can do for Whistler.

4. How will Whistler 2020 help us?

It will help us because it’s what the people want and it’s our future. Hopefully we can do everything that’s in it, or as close as we can.

We won’t be able to follow it all the time. The town is fluid, and the plan has to be fluid too. It’s great to have a road map of where you want to be and an idea of how to get there.

5. Name three things you expect to accomplish in this council’s term.

Number one is get rid of the pay parking in town. We have to make people feel welcome as soon as they get here. All the retailers and restaurant people I have talked to want them gone.

Number two is housing for people that want to live in Whistler and that aren’t at the top of the income scale.

The third thing is something to do on rainy days, and that’s the indoor surf park, skatepark, BMX park, gyms, climbing wall – basically every sport we can think of in a building where the driving range is. There are driving ranges everywhere, we need to offer something different to visitors and residents. We have to give as many different people as we can a reason to come here.

It’s not that we have to think big, we just have to think "different" and "best in the world".