In her 12 years at the helm of Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS), Janet McDonald has seen tremendous change.
When she first accepted the position it was part-time and there were seven programs to oversee.
Today there are 25 programs, more than 20 staff and the budget has grown to five times its original size.
Now, on the cusp of even more change, McDonald is stepping down as executive director and moving to Victoria to be closer to family.
She is handing over the reins to two staff members — Greg McDonnell, who will assume the position of executive director, and Lorna Van Straaten who will be the administrator.
“I think we’re at the point where we’re going to be able to expand a whole lot more in the next couple of years,” explained McDonald of the reason to divide her position.
“We see it over and over again when companies expand very quickly and they’re not ready for that kind of expansion, it can cause a but of havoc,” said McDonald. “So I wanted to make sure that it was all prepared.”
Among the WCSS plans on the horizon are a new Re-Build-It Centre and a large commercial greenhouse.
The Re-Build-It Centre is the logical extension of the Re-Use-It Centre, recycling building supplies.
Because of the confined space at the Function Junction location, the new Re-Build-It Centre will be located next to the municipality’s new waste transfer station at the entrance to the Callaghan Valley, five minutes south of Function Junction.
It has been the tremendous success of the Re-Use-It Centre since it opened in 2000 that has allowed WCSS to expand its programs in the past. The Re-Build-It Centre should provide even more funding. It is scheduled to open in spring/summer of 2008.
The commercial greenhouse is another large project on the go, set to offer organic vegetables to local restaurants and food outlets.
McDonald said they are looking at the potential of an 80,000 square foot facility that could operate year-round, located at the new athletes’ village.
“These opportunities for further ongoing funding mean we’ll be able to put that money into more programming,” said McDonald. “In order to support that kind of growth it made sense to me to really make sure that we have a solid foundation for our internal systems.”
While McDonnell will oversee the big picture direction of the organization, working on strategic planning and building community partnerships, Van Straaten, as administrator, will look over the more the day-to-day functions.
And so, McDonald said, the timing was right for her to step down and make the move to Victoria with her husband.
Her extended family is there and she is looking forward to spending more time with them.
She leaves the organization in December.
After 17 years in this community, however, there will be so many things she will miss.
“I work with fabulous people with Whistler Community Services but also my peers within the community,” she said. “It’s a great community and that’ll be hard to replace. It’s also very progressive. We have a full-on community plan and we’re heading towards sustainability and you just don’t find that in other communities.”