With the Beijing Olympics over and CBC having returned to its derivative, somnambulistic programming, one lesson is clear, one in which the residents of Tiny Town can take some solace. Notwithstanding the nearly decade-long foreplay, the Games will come, the Games will finish, life will go on.
When the last member of the Olympic family packs his swagbag and trundles off to the next gloryfest, we’ll chainsaw those hideously ugly Olympic venue signs — we will, won’t we? — and get our town back. We may have trouble recognizing it but someday, far in the future, what is now the near future will probably seem like the good old days. Don’t worry; be happy.
While there have been numerous Olympic assaults on the general direction we thought Whistler was headed in, none have been quite as stinging as the ones agreed to by council in the last two weeks and advocated by at least one highly conflicted letter writer.
The great dissatisfaction with the previous council revolved around its seeming inability to make headway on building non-market housing — resident-restricted, employee or affordable housing if you will. While the town bled good people who couldn’t crack the housing nut, new projects remained a pipedream and lip service remained the coin of the realm.
This council attacked the problem with renewed vigour. Rainbow slowly became a more likely reality and the athletes’ village — Cheakamus Crossing, although the Village of Golden Dreams still strikes me as the better name — loomed large. Compromises were made with the private developers of Rainbow that led Councillor McKeever to recommend the “hold our noses and get on with it” approach. And compromises are now being agreed to with the Whistler 2020 Development Corporation (WDC) that unnecessarily undermine the gains made over the past decades in the battles to bring non-market housing to a level where Whistler can boast an ability to house upwards of 75 per cent of our workforce in town instead of upvalley.
Non-market housing is one thing, not the only thing but a big thing, this town’s struggled with and succeeded in doing right. It hasn’t been easy. It has been a learn-as-you-go experience. There have been setbacks and failures, reformulations, good ideas abandoned and better ideas adopted. But the goal has always been to enhance the resort experience by housing that large percentage of workerbees within municipal boundaries. The single biggest key to ensuring the future viability of those efforts has been keeping the appreciation of non-market housing low so future owners could afford to buy it from past owners. If we don’t succeed at that, all the efforts to get non-market housing built will be a wasted one-shot deal with no future payoff.