Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

Un-Stuffing Tourism Whistler



By G.D. Maxwell

When my Perfect Partner and I arrived in Whistler a little over a decade ago, pretty much everything we owned of a corporeal nature fit neatly into Mello Yello, the recently acquired but already well-travelled Westfailya.

Not having been able to completely throw off our North American cultural bias for accumulating Stuff, there was, of course, a de rigueur ministorage locker crammed with treasures too dear to offer up to the Philistines who attended the half dozen garage sales we’d held in the years prior to our departure from the Old Country... Toronto.

As misguided a decision as storing anything for what eventually became a very long, expensive time proved to be, we were both amazed and somewhat proud at our ability to cast off most of our worldly goods, free ourselves from our Stuff, downsize. It bucked the trend of a lifetime and made us suspect in the eyes of close friends.

I have come to a startling discovery though. Stuff regenerates. Stuff happens. Stuff is the stuff of life and it is, unless you belong to some fringe, monastic sect, inescapable.

This revelation presented itself after labouring several days to clear 10 years of mysteriously accumulated Stuff out of our Whistler living space in order to allow someone else to – if only temporarily – move his Stuff in.

"Where’d all this Stuff come from?" The question became a mantra in the flurry of decisions being made as to whether life’s flotsam and jetsam was ‘keeper’ Stuff or bound for the Re-use-it Centre, compactor, shredder, cottage or second bedroom, now doubling as ministorage.

Unless you’re ever-vigilant, it takes an unusual event to destuff your life. Something more profound than simple spring cleaning.

Institutions are like that too. Except the Stuff of institutions often take the form of tasks, rituals, roles, jobs, responsibilities. Institutions, being by definition institutional, lumber forward under the weight of their histories and it is only through opportunities presented by unusual events – mergers, bankruptcies, obsolescence and such – that they are generally able to unstuff themselves.

So it is with Tourism Whistler.

The event is the departure of Ms. Denbak, president and CEO of Tourism Whistler for the past five years. A changing of the guard is always a good opportunity to ask the question, "What is it we’re guarding?"

In the predawn days of Whistler’s history, Tourism Whistler’s predecessor, the more mellifluous Whistler Resort Association, played a vital role in putting the nascent resort on the mental maps of resort-minded people. It was a blank slate; the WRA was the only show in town. There was no Blackcomb, let alone a Whistler-Blackcomb, no property management companies, no 1-800 reservation system, no golf course, not much of anything really.