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New community programs sparked by Whistler 2020

Whistler Community Services Society holds AGM on June 23



Local seniors and kids, though they may be years apart, will soon have a reason to come together.

The Whistler Community Services Society is spearheading a new program called Adopt-A-Grandparent, where one senior and a kid will be paired together and encouraged to meet weekly.

"It’s really about support systems and inter-generational connections," explained Janet McDonald, executive director of WCSS.

"(There’s) not a lot of opportunity for that currently in Whistler, really because very few families have any kind of extended family here. I think that’s a bit of a loss and so we’d like to be able to make some connections for people."

Adopt-A-Grandparent is just one of three new programs launched by WCSS this year.

The new programs are getting off the ground as a direct result of Whistler 2020, the resort’s long-range visioning document.

That document, which is not yet complete, is the ongoing work of more than 150 community members who have been brainstorming in 16 different task forces for ways to move the resort to its vision in the year 2020 – a vision where the resort is both successful and sustainable.

Adopt-A-Grandparent will be done in cooperation with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, a group already set up to do screening and matching pairs together.

The program came out of discussions on the health and social task force of which McDonald was a member.

Another program stemming from the health and social task force is the Sea-to-Sky Programs and Services Chart.

This chart will list the contact information for social service programs in the corridor. This will not only serve people in need of the services but also funding groups looking for programs to support financially.

"There’s hasn’t been one comprehensive chart for the whole corridor that we’re aware of," said McDonald.

McDonald was also a member of the resident affordability task force. One initiative sparked by that task force is the Interim Housing Program, the most expensive program of the three.

The municipality gave the WCSS a $17,000 grant earlier this year to run a short-term housing program which would help newcomers when they first arrive in Whistler in the fall.

It will also serve as a place for locals who have found themselves without a home temporarily.

WCSS has yet to find a place that will serve as their eight-week shelter in October/November.

Ideally it would be a ski club cabin or a house zoned for nightly rentals," said McDonald, adding that a housing manager would be on site whenever the building was occupied.

"We don’t want anything fancy."

Community members can learn more about these programs and the more than 20 other programs run by WCSS at the annual general meeting on Thursday June 23 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Myrtle Philip School.

The WCSS is looking for new members and will be voting in the new Board of Directors for the society. All are welcome to attend and get involved in some grassroots organizations.

If anyone has ideas about suitable accommodation for the interim shelter program, contact Janet McDonald at 604-932-0113.