How our municipal council envisions our community as a sustainable entity, based completely on tourism, is beyond my capacity to understand. Our province is littered with the remains of once successful towns that focused solely on the development of only one industry. As long as I have lived in Whistler we have paid at least lip service to some diversification of our economy. Yet we now appear to be going against this important goal.
Since our basic employment and space resources are limited there is no doubt that there will only be a few non-tourism businesses willing to locate in Whistler. Rent conscious, or businesses with great employment needs, who could locate elsewhere would be unwise to settle here. But those companies who feel they can prosper based on promoting the "Whistler lifestyle" should be encouraged. Such companies, marketing outside our local economy, could give Whistler exactly the flexibility required to maintain our community through an economic downturn. Imagine the consequences of not having diversified our income sources if we one day found ourselves facing a U.S. dollar at par.
In addition, as we continue to debate the affordability issue for Whistler residents we must look not at just the costs of living here but also at the possibilities of earning greater incomes. Since many of these non-traditional employers require skilled people and have cheaper location requirements they can often justify higher wages than most tourism-based businesses. The availability of higher wages would mean more of our community could afford to remain in Whistler.
I have to conclude that once again we find our council and municipal staff confused over the difference between problems and opportunities. Perhaps we should all admit that we dont have many of the answers for dealing with "buildout" and start asking for some professional and objective, outside advice. Seems to me that this would be a far less dangerous pursuit than the ongoing offering of ill-conceived and misguided notions.
Once again the industrial tourism enterprise in Whistler is looking to increase the volume of discharge from their sewage treatment plant into the Cheakamus River. In spite of having a 52,000 bed unit limit for development in their official community plan, to date they have not agreed to our requests to have that limit built into their sewage treatment facilities.
Those involved with the original development plans for Whistler made a decision to pump the sewage over the summit to a plant on the Cheakamus River. This meant effluent would go out the back door of the community and the Whistler drainage area would never suffer the effects of pollution.