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Mayor looks ahead and reflects as council reaches its term mid-point

Wilhelm-Morden gives personal insights at MAC meeting



It's only the halfway mark of this term in office but there's a sense that still a lot more is to come from this mayor and council.

As speaker at Monday's Annual General Meeting for the Mature Action Committee, or MAC, Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden told the Whistler crowd of those aged 55-plus that three reports are due in the coming months that could change the face of Whistler. They are the Economic Partnership Initiative (EPI) report, the Cultural Task Force report and the Learning and Education Task Force report.

Council will likely be faced with tough decisions before their time is up.

"We want to end our term just as strongly as we started," said the mayor.

But Monday's talk was also a retrospective, giving the MAC members a look back at the last year and a half.

Wilhelm-Morden spoke about timing and compared Whistler to her stubborn old grandfather clock at home.

"It's beautiful. It works, most of the time. But sometimes it just seizes up and stops," she said.

She thinks that's what happened in 2011; the timing was right then for change and that's why she was elected with six new councillors.

Timing too was critical in those early days. Council wanted to send a clear message that it had heard the community's calls for change.

It did three things immediately — scrapped pay parking in lots 4 and 5 and made parking free after 5 p.m. in Lots 1, 2 and 3, initiated the illegal space task force, and reduced the mayor's salary by $10,000. As for pay parking, which Wilhelm-Morden had to compromise on in order to reach consensus, she said now: "I still don't think we got that right."

Wilhelm-Morden would like to see free parking in all but Lot 1.

As for illegal space she said now: "We do have and will have bigger houses but quite frankly, we were going to have them anyway."

As for the pay-cut, she's not sure that was the right thing either, she said with a smile.

Fortuitous timing also played a role this term.

"I had nothing to do with the increased snow," she joked of last season's abundance in Whistler compared to other resorts in North America.

Council, too, had nothing to do with the Tough Mudder competition that drew 12,000 competitors and family and friends to Whistler in what would otherwise be a quiet June weekend. Another boost.

And the timing was right for Ironman Canada to find another host community after 30 years in Penticton. It chose Whistler.

It's supposed to inject $15 million into the local economy every year for its five year run in Whistler, starting this August.

And then came the Audain Art Museum — another coup where timing was everything.

Wilhelm-Morden also touched on some of the challenges of the term to date — the asphalt plant still operating at the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood, the Official Community Plan update potentially in limbo at the provincial level as it deals with threats from First Nations to derail it, the Cheakamus Community Forest and the fact Whistler is in the logging business, something the mayor said is "counterintuitive."

She called her term thus far: rewarding, interesting, tiring, death-defying — referring to bobsledding with Justin Trudeau and zip trekking with part-time Whistler resident Doug Barnett.

"In many ways it's been what I expected but in many ways it's not what I expected at all," she said.

MAC set to update image

Whistler's seniors are looking to revamp their image of sorts as they actively set out to recruit more members to their over 55 club.

It's been called the Mature Action Committee, or MAC, for almost two decades but as they tweak their name from "committee" to "community," president Sue Lawther said they are hoping to become more inclusive.

"MAC is not just about housing," she explained at Monday's Annual General Meeting, referring to MAC's early vision and mandate. "It's for every senior in this community."

MAC numbers are down slightly this year, from 245 to 212 members.

"The goal for his upcoming year is increasing our critical mass," said Lawther.

"It's all about numbers."

Numbers to lobby for change, numbers to get funding and programs, numbers to boost their influence.

MAC is involved in several projects such as the intergenerational activity programming with Whistler Secondary School and developing the volunteer program of Seniors Helping Seniors. Also on the horizon is to be a part of a local Seniors' Advisory Council and a regional Seniors' Roundtable.

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