Rotary grows with Millennium By Loreth Beswetherick More than 20 years ago, when the Whistler population hovered around the 2,000 mark, Bob Bishop — original developer of Whistler Cay, Whistler Cay Heights and the Whistler Golf Course — rounded up 18 good men and started a Rotary Club. The Whistler Club received its charter from Rotary International in 1977 and has been going strong ever since. The membership is now at 50 — made up of both good men and women. However, with the resort's population more in the region of 9,000, the Whistler Club's last remaining charter member, Paul Burrows, feels the community is large enough and ready for a second club — the Whistler Millennium Club. He is heading up an initiative to establish the new club, which he expects will receive its charter some time in October. Burrows said the move has been endorsed by the Whistler Club and encouraged by Rotary District 5040, which covers an area stretching from New Westminster to MacKenzie in the north. The Millennium Club currently has the official status of a "provisional club" and this week will mark the fifth meeting of the club. The next step is to form an executive and bag the charter. Burrows said the reasons for starting the new organization are twofold. The Whistler Club meets each Tuesday at the early hour of 7:15 a.m. "We lost a few members when went to breakfast meetings three or four years ago," said Burrows. The Millennium Club will meet Wednesdays just after noon for lunch at Boston Pizza each week. It will also provide an opportunity for easy make-up meetings. Rotarians are expected to attend two-thirds of the weekly gatherings and the closest club to date for make-up meetings has been in Squamish. Burrows said the intent is also to raise the profile of Rotary in the community and to get more people involved. He expects the total number of Rotarians to be boosted from 50 to 80 members with the advent of the new club. "The Whistler Millennium Club will have some former, some existing but by and large, new members," said Burrows. "Starting a second club in a community is always a little more difficult. There is a perceived territory or turf and a feeling that another club will take away from the old, but it doesn't," said Burrows. "It adds to Rotary. The numbers may go down in one club but overall the number goes up." The two organizations will work together on fund-raising projects and hosting students. The next student is set to arrive from Paris after Labour Day. "It's a co-operative endeavour rather than competitive." Burrows added the only competition likely will come in the form of a friendly hockey or golf tournament. The next joint fund-raising project for the Rotarians will be the annual Labour Day weekend corn roast, Sept. 4-6. Whistler's Rotarians are also looking forward to hosting the district convention slated for May 2000. The event will bring more that 500 members to the resort. Burrows said anyone interested in joining the Millennium Club should come to a Wednesday lunch. He said one of the tenets of Rotary is to have as broad a representation of the local business community as possible, which means more than 10 per cent of club members should not come form one particular sector. Burrows said, with more than 500 businesses now listed with the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, that should not be a difficult target. He said some Rotary clubs world-wide have 600 to 700 members and there are others with as few as 10 members. He feels, however, the best fellowship and achievements can be attained by a membership of between 40 and 70. "Everyone knows each other and the club is big enough to do something and make a difference in the community." Rotary is an organization of business and professional people united world-wide, who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in vocation and work towards building peace and goodwill in the world. The Whistler Club's response to a request for assistance from two Turkish Rotarians who visited the community in January is an example of this ethic at work. Rotarians have voted to send $1,500 to Turkey to aid in disaster relief after the catastrophic earthquake.