Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed out

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Whistler ought to be a town of vibrant neighbourhoods filled with a diverse mix of those kids, some of whom are lucky enough or in debt enough to own a home, many of whom rent suites in homes, some of whom live in "managed" housing and a whack of whom live in employee housing.

The most crucial element of our "healthy" resort is the energy that mix brings to the destination tourist experience. You see, we live our guests’ dream. For a week or two, they want to share in it, they want to be us. Our mountains are a bit better than a lot of other resorts, our cute pedestrian village is more cozy. But the energy of our people is what defines the Whistler experience. It’s our competitive advantage. We act like we have a stake in this town because we live in this town. Threaten that and you threaten our success.

One of the tricks we need to master is how to keep our neighbourhoods from sliding headlong into the dark, empty scenario. One way to fail miserably at this trick is to keep on doing what we’ve been doing… nothing. Every time we let someone walk into an existing neighbourhood, plop down a wad of dough, bring in a bulldozer and raze a house and suite only to build their "dream" home, sans suite, we’re letting them destroy our shared vision. They’re not buying into our community – they’re destroying it. They have their own dream and it ain’t the same one we’re trying to share and build.

So how do we stop them?

Make ’em build a suite to replace the one they’ve destroyed. Right there on the same spot. Make ’em rent it to a worker bee. Or make ’em let the housing authority do it if they can’t seem to find the time themselves. No wiggle room. No cash in lieu. No exceptions.

Some would say that’s draconian. Some would say it’s downright commie. Some would say it’s tramping on property rights.

Bullshit.

The rights being tramped on are our rights, as a community, to protect the very thing that’s made us successful and will keep us successful in the future. They’re being tramped on by people who don’t want to share the vision with us. They’re being tramped on by people who would, by and large, be just as happy investing their money in any town they thought they’d earn a decent return in, destination resort or not.