The perfect strategy
The public information meeting (Jan. 29, 2007) regarding the draft Whistler Sustainable Retail Strategy seemed to lack strong leadership and direction.
While the consultants talked about their report regarding the retail strategy Whistler should pursue in future, many of the speakers from the audience talked for or against London Drugs establishing a store in the village. Many of the speakers’ comments were more applicable to council and a public hearing rather than to the consultants. Since there was no strong leadership at the meeting, the result was two groups not listening to each other in one room. Thank goodness for everyone’s civility or it would have turned into a Jerry Springer moment.
Reading the summary of the key findings in the report, I found it rather amusing that one of the Community-Wide Recommendations of the draft Retail Strategy is that “No new space additions, except for existing zoned and underdeveloped space only allowing for reconfiguration of space or relocation of existing stores”. Lucky for us, council can now follow a strategy that says “no to new space” or “yes to new space, since the space has existing zoning or is underdeveloped space”, which leaves us looking at council decisions with no accountability. Thank goodness for consultant reports or no decisions could ever be made!
Further on in the Retail Strategy and under the heading “What can RMOW Do To Enhance Retail Performance and Experience”, the recommendation is to “Implement new zoning and bylaw policies that allow for important outdoor patio and restaurant locations, limits the size of retail stores at grade in specific nodes and allows for retail spill out into common areas for sidewalk events and off stroll spaces.” Again, council can rely on the Retail Strategy to back whichever decision is made depending on the various interpretations of each of the recommendations.
But the biggest chuckle of all for me happened at the meeting, after the official presentation, when the questions and comment period ran over the scheduled time. The chair called the meeting and acknowledged that he and the consultants would stay for feedback. At that time, a spokesperson for Whistler’s largest employer suggested that the proposed space for London Drugs should be used as recreational space.
I strongly support that “this company” come up with some “other money losing recreation activity”. I also suggest that many other Whistlerites would agree that “this company” could finance any shortfall from this recreation space with the proceeds from its many sports retail stores, which are no doubt leased at favourable rates and are operated in the various “retail nodes” in Whistler.