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New, condensed cultural plan established for Whistler

Cultural Plan now combines the Cultural Tourism Development Strategy and Whistler's Community Cultural Plan


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Whistler has a new cultural plan.

At a Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, June 5, John Rae, manager of cultural planning and development with the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) and Maureen Douglas, executive director of Arts Whistler, offered an update on the document that maps the development of arts, culture and heritage in the resort.

The Cultural Tourism Development Strategy (CTDS) and Whistler's Community Cultural Plan (WCCP) have been combined and condensed to create Whistler's Cultural Plan, Douglas explained, during the meeting.

"Sue (Adams), John and I got together to review and find redundancies," she added. "We brought it back to the cultural alliance, got some great input to make sure we did insert roles of organizations that have emerged more strongly—recognized the roles they have, like PARC (The Point Artist-Run Centre). Now we have this updated version, the highlight reel. It's five pages ... It reinvigorates our cultural development purpose."

Considering the CTDS came out in 2011 and the WCCP was released in 2013, the new plan reflects several changes in the resort, community and growth of various cultural institutions in the last five to seven years.

"We're still going after the same opportunities for cultural tourism and community enhancement," Douglas said. "The commitment to First Nations revitalization renewal is now strategy No. 1. There are a few strategies now, followed by 25 recommendations, rather than 51 combined by the two plans."

The plan features a total of four foundational goals: ensuring Whistler residents understand and appreciate the local arts, culture and heritage sector; aiming to imbue residents with a strong sense of identity, pride and belonging through participation in the sector; boosting Whistler's recognition for policies and programs that help with economic prosperity through cultural initiatives and creative industries; and, finally, making Whistler a vibrant, cultural destination for visitors from around the world.

To achieve those goals, the plan lays out three strategic priorities as well as 12 strategies.

"(There's) no timelines," Douglas said. "We'll keep revisiting (it) and make sure we're staying on the path. With the way we're working together now, we're pretty excited many (of the goals) may be met in 18 months."

One of the new initiatives that caught the attention of Councillor Cathy Jewett during the meeting was the idea of a West Side Cultural Connector, similar to the one that has been established linking arts venues in the village.

It would connect places like Alta Lake Park and Station House, the original Alta Lake School, The Point Artist-Run Centre, Rainbow Park, Emerald forest and the River of Golden Dreams.

"I'm excited about the West Side Connector," Jewett said. "I think about the great things that are there—the Poet's Pause as an example—that are hidden treasures."

Another new project highlighted during the meeting was the establishment of a Geopark that would include locations like the Whistler Basalt Escarpment and The Barrier.

Initially, the idea was to create a UNESCO park, but that plan has since changed, Rae said. "We're still working very closely with the people involved in UNESCO, but we're thinking we could do this ourselves adjacent to our boundaries without having to worry too much about the restrictions involved in UNESCO requirements. We have a lot of geology and geodiversity that's of interest to people in Whistler."