I’d like to take this opportunity to say a few kind words about our current mayor and council.
The past three years have neither been the easiest, nor the most opportune time, to govern Tiny Town. Six years ago, we were invited to swim with sharks. It sounded like a good idea, even fun, at the time. And while we haven’t been eaten alive — yet — we have been swimming as fast as we can in currents that seem to run faster still as the moment of truth approaches. Every time someone tosses us what looks like a lifeline, there seems to be a weight attached. Just call me chum.
With a respectable voter turnout, we elected a largely new council and a most unlikely mayor. They’ve worked hard, enjoyed some successes, learned a few lessons along the way about how politics and perception are often at odds with what seem like “rational” decisions, and learned even harder lessons about how a good decision can turn around and bite your collective butt when it’s mangled by poor to non-existent communication.
Their shining moment came when they unanimously, and forcefully, declined Larco’s request to rezone the subterranean vacuum the company’s let languish for a number of years now. The decision, effectively killing the efforts of Larco and London Drugs to bring discount diapers to Whistler, pissed off more than a few people who firmly believe the organizing principle of life is shop ’til you drop. It didn’t stop the chaining of Whistler, didn’t keep Nike et.al., from opening stores just like the ones you can visit, well, everywhere else in the world, and didn’t bring any new, interesting, one-off boutiques to town. But it did draw a line in the retail landscape across which no big box shall cross and that is good for our future, even if it means the live-to-shop crowd have to traverse the Sea-to-Hell construction zone to save a few bucks.
And while many would also disagree, their efforts on this year’s budget approached heroic. I’ll let you catch your breath while you wonder if I’ve lost my mind. The easy thing would have been to run with the 14.5 per cent property tax increase that would have been required to make up the unexpected shortfall in revenue visited upon us when the provincial Liberals changed the tax rules on strata hotels. They didn’t do that. They made some tough choices and hammered the tax increase down to a modest, if unpopular number. Of course, they so botched their messaging and timing — op. cit., poor to non-existent communication — they managed to piss off everyone and turn a heroic moment into a goatfest. Baaaa-d.