Opinion » Alta States

Living on Easy Street — riding the wave of constant change



"I never liked the name of our street. After all, living at Whistler isn't easy. But then, things that matter are never easy..."

Kashi Richardson

It seemed like they had it made. The skiing was great. Their mom-and-pop transportation business, Snow Goose, was immensely popular. And talk around the valley hinted of even bigger things to come in the future. For Kashi Richardson and her beau, Bob Daniels, Whistler in the late 1970's was a time of great promise.

But it was never easy. "We worked our tails off in those years," says Kashi. She sighs. "And that's because we really believed in what we were doing." She shrugs. Sighs again. "We put our heart and soul into that business...."

It was during a low-budget trip to South America, she explains, that the couple experienced the social benefits of public transport first-hand. "You can't remain in your own little cultural bubble on a bus," she says. "It's so easy to connect to the people around you..." So they came back to Whistler in 1977 with a mission. "I wanted to help people ride together," she says. "Back then I really thought that if we could all get together on the bus we would all come together as a community."

Ahead of their time? No question. Successful? Without a doubt. Alas, when it finally came time for Whistler to make the next big development leap, the enterprising young couple was left out in the cold. "We sold the business in 1981," says Kashi. She sighs again. They had no choice, she explains. "With the coming of Blackcomb and the building of the Village, Whistler council embarked on a new vision. Suddenly they didn't want mom-and-pop operations anymore. They wanted established companies..."

Sounds awfully familiar. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. No? But I digress.

Still, Kashi wasn't all that disappointed in the outcome. "When we sold," she says, "for me, it was like 'Hooray!' I was so relieved to be free of stress again."

The irony in all this, of course, is that the "big" company that took over Snow Goose ran the operation for a few years... and then folded. "So Whistler had no transportation again." Kashi tries not to laugh. But she can't help it. After all, it is funny. And sad.

Fortunately there's an upside to this story. "Selling Snow Goose allowed us to build our house at Tapley's," she tells me. Arguably the most successful social experiment at Whistler, the Tapley's Farm development came about when a posse of longhaired locals decided to take ownership of their housing woes and do something about it. The result was the creation of the legendary Mountain Development Corporation (MDC) — and the first stab at creating affordable resident housing at Whistler.