By Andrew Mitchell
For an organization with over 7,000 members, the annual Tourism Whistler board elections have been low-key, low turnout affairs in the past, with representatives for different business sectors typically earning spots by acclamation at the annual general meeting.
This year things will be different, as Tourism Whistler has worked to include as many members as possible in the nomination process, and to register members to vote. They have also increased the ways that members can vote, now allowing mail-in ballots and online ballots as well as votes at the AGM. Proxy votes, such as a commercial landlord voting on behalf of their tenants, will not be allowed.
The first package was sent out to members in early February, which included the nomination forms. The nomination period wrapped up in early March, with multiple candidates for most board positions.
Rick Clare, the current chair of the board as well as the Commercial Director for the past eight years, now has two challengers for his position — something he considers a good start for more community involvement.
“This year there is an actual election in every category except for Single Managed Lodging where (Chateau Whistler GM) Michael Kaile will fill the position,” he said. “We’ve made a real effort of expanding our reach and letting people know that they can be involved. Our nominating committee also did a great job, coming out with a list of 18 to 20 names just for the commercial director position.
“In the past a lot of businesses didn’t even know they have a vote. Years ago I remember there were only 23 votes for the commercial sector, and they were the people that owned the properties and that’s about it. Few of their tenants exercised their votes.”
Clare welcomes the challenge, and is running again for the position for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons is continuity, and building on the progress made in recent years. Another reason is to provide a voice for small business on the board, as well as to represent the large Commercial portfolio that includes all restaurants, retailers, tour operators, and other local businesses.
“What it comes down to, and I’ll say this very carefully, is that when things are going well for the resort there’s no use for Tourism Whistler, and when things are going badly it’s Tourism Whistler’s fault. That’s just the way it is, because people don’t always see what’s going on behind the scenes or understand the role that Tourism Whistler plays,” he said.