Name: Kristi Wells
Occupation: Mother, councillor and business woman.
Last book read: Hold on to Your Kids, G. Neufeld, and C. Mate.
What music are you listening to these days: Van Morrison, and anything country.
Favourite recreational pursuits: most snow sports, any water sports, my garden and walking with my family and dog.
1. Why are you running for mayor?
Whistler is my home and my family's future. I reflect a large demographic of people who work, live and play in Whistler and I personally understand our community's core issues. By this I mean that I have worked for tourism wages, been a small business owner and I work hard to afford my own home and manage it. In addition, I am raising my two children and creatively find the time to recreate, volunteer and serve my community as a 12-year councillor. I am soon (Dec. 10th!) getting married to my partner Rob who has taken a sabbatical from his medical practice to be in Whistler permanently.
I am running for mayor because I have an enduring passion for all that is Whistler and a positive vision for our future. I am acutely aware that Whistler is at a crucial crossroads and it can no longer be business as usual. My experience, commitment and proven achievements are evidence of my ability to govern and lead a true team of council and an effective organization. I am capable of continuing to be committed to this community and fulfilling the job of mayor with all the passion and energy it requires. I want to be a mayor that this community can feel proud of.
2/3. What are the biggest issues facing Whistler and what needs to be done to address these issues?
Perhaps the most important and all embracing need is to create a genuine hope for locals to believe that Whistler can be their permanent home. This issue is more than simply creating affordable resident housing. It must include delivering on many aspects of Whistler 2020 including creating more post secondary opportunities, exploring the potential for local commercial lease rates, lessoning the provincial school tax burden, ensuring greater family resources are available and broadening our scope of services and products to include seniors and people with disabilities.
A second major issue for Whistler is creating more economic drivers. It is time for the municipality to redirect some of the hotel tax that we collect and work with our partners to market the resort. We need to focus our priorities on helping to increase room nights and add incremental value to the visitor experience. Initiatives such as the Paralympic facility on Lot 1/9 and the Welcome Strategy require a commitment of resources and priority status in order to succeed. Ideas such as a municipal airport, a diversified recreational experience (surf park!) or a greater event profile need to be given due consideration.
In addition, Whistler must boldly lobby the provincial government at a political level to creatively address the need for alternative revenue sources. Whistler must insist on the ability to create a new tax class for those properties falling somewhere between residential and commercial rates and finally bring closure to the class 1/6 inequity. We need to ensure that our future revenue stream is less reliant on property taxes and is augmented with a greater percentage of the hotel tax returned to our community. Initiatives to be further explored include the proposal that a portion of the property transfer tax remains here to help fund housing and more grant/sponsorship opportunities are pursued and realized.
4. How will Whistler 2020 help us?
Whistler 2020 provides a foundational framework for assisting in good decision making. If used effectively, the results will help ensure a truly successful and vibrant resort community. What we must be careful about is managing the expectations that may be created from such an ambitious plan that at this point does not take into consideration limited resources, money and time.
We have worked together to create the "What", but the hardest part of this document is still to come the "When and How".
5. Name three things you expect to accomplish in this council's term.
1. Creating an exceptional plan for the Paralympic facility on Lot 1/9 that will encompass many of our community's ambitious and important strategies and goals.
2. Securing alternate sources of revenue so that we may lesson the local property tax burden and initiate the Whistler 2020 "wish list" faster.
3. Delivering affordable housing opportunities within our valley and managing the development sprawl in the corridor by finalizing the SLRD Growth Strategy document.