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More than buildings?

Icon Gone looks at Whistler’s fragile built history, and what we can salvage from the wreckage

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As the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival and the Whistler Museum and Archives Society prepare to stage the second annual Icon Gone debate at Millennium Place on April 13, various Whistlerites share their views on what constitutes an icon in the slick resort town. Are there any icons left? Are the old icons, if they still exist, worth saving? Are there any new icons to be proud of that reflect what Whistler has become?

Lisa Richardson, one of the organizers of the TWSSF, says the name of the contest was designed to provoke dialogue within the community.

“Whistler is a place, like the Lower Mainland, where land values are so high that there isn't a lot of room to protect built heritage,” she said. “There have been a lot of changes in the resort — anyone who has been around for more than three years starts to develop nostalgia for the way it used to be. But then the resort itself is so iconic on the world stage, and every new thing is being pitched as iconic, that there are constant new contenders for the title.”

Icon Gone is being promoted as “a verbal gladiator match” with a healthy dose of humour.

“The idea of the storytelling event was to let heritage become something live,” Richardson continued. “Something we gather around the bar to shoot the breeze about, as opposed to something we somberly walk through dank trailers to explore.”

With Whistler’s history as a ski resort only 40 years old, the museum hopes events like Icon Gone will encourage both long-time residents and relative newcomers to share their stories.

“The Museum wanted an opportunity to connect with people who don't typically think that Whistler history has any relevance to them,” Richardson explained. “(The Museum wanted) people to realize that the experiences they are having right now will, at some future point, be part of that collective heritage.”

G.D. Maxwell is game for another round of verbal sparring as one of the contest’s returning participants.

“Personally, I'd like to see it evolve (devolve?) into a more raucous evening where people stomp and whistle and throw fruit to show their support or opposition to the various presentations/presenters,” said the Whistler writer.   “What's more fun than arguing whether naked hippies/jocks are more iconic than Whistler Peak?”

Heather Paul, who has resided in Whistler for ten years, likens the Icon Gone event as “the Pique letters section in the context of entertainment”.

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