Its our future
I have just returned from the WORCA Whistler. It's our Future sustainability workshop. My husband Ross and I also attended the "official" workshops a few weeks ago. But this time our feelings could not be more opposite. The official workshops induced in us feelings of frustration, annoyance, boredom and even despair. The WORCA workshop on the other hand, was not only enjoyable and interesting, but also gave us a real feeling of hope.
What were the differences? While we recognize that the originators of Whistler. It's our Future deserve kudos for thinking up the idea in the first place, we could not believe that the folks who apparently run this town could get the actual process so hopelessly wrong, and mis-read the local community so badly. This was depressing. Those very expensive out-of-town consultants were seriously superfluous in a community where most locals are vividly aware of the issues at hand. They were also, I am sorry to say, very boring, and their unwitting condescension set my teeth on edge.
The WORCA workshop however was clearly made by locals, for locals, and the atmosphere was completely different. The speakers and organizers (locals all) were brief, entertaining, succinct and lucid. They said what was necessary and no more, so that the bulk of the evening could be given over to participants voicing their opinions and ideas.
Whereas the "official" workshops overwhelmed with a mind-numbing 54 criteria, most of them rendered irrelevant unless we first address the affordability issue, the WORCA organizers had the good sense to pare down the criteria to an essential five.
There seemed to be at least 60 to 70 people in attendance, which easily beats the attendance at the official workshops once you eliminate those who were paid to be at those. And here at last were those twenty- and even thirty-somethings so lamentably absent from the "official" events.
Why, at the WORCA workshop only, did we get such a feeling of hope for the future of our community? Perhaps because thanks to the relevance of the agenda and the excellent cross-section of attendees, we heard so many concrete and workable ideas for sustainable affordability. If you were not there, I can tell you that the general consensus seemed to be that Whistler can sustain the local community if those of us who are left can resist the temptation to cash out and flee to communities where, let's be honest, we would not dream of living but for the lure of financial gain.
Those of us tempted to flee by rocketing property taxes can find hope if our next mayor and council take the WORCA participants' suggestions to heart, and take a firm line with Victoria, using our hefty contribution to the provincial coffers as a bargaining chip, not to mention the governmental desire to see the Olympics here. We can feel hope if we get a mayor and council who act on participants' annoyance at tax inequities by clamping down on the carpet-baggers (many of them local, shame on them) who build new homes at 3,500 square feet with taxes to match, then wait for the building inspector to leave so they can add another 1,500 square feet in the "garage" and flip the property at an inflated price.