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New funding sources may pay off for municipality



Municipality's attempts to cash in on 'Whistler' name brand hastened by provincial downloading

Whistler's local government is poised to reap the rewards of the an entrepreneurial approach to business.

A number of initiatives, still to be finalized, could inject new cash flows into municipal coffers in the years to come.

Among those initiatives is a deal to buy a company as well as to outsource municipal expertise for consultative fees and take the Yodel partnership to a whole new level.

"(The entrepreneurial approach) is really about looking for opportunities that aren't just a money grab or a user-fee increase," said Deputy Administrator Bill Barratt.

"It's really about efficiencies, effectiveness and partnerships."

And he added if the municipality brings in more money that means there's more opportunities for community services to grow and get better.

Whistler is in a unique spot when it comes to entrepreneurial opportunities because companies recognize the "Whistler" name brand as a selling point that has a certain cachet.

While it's hard to quantify how much the brand could be worth in the future, there are early indications of its potential.

"I think we're getting to the point where we are becoming a mega-brand," said John Rae, manager of strategic alliances and marketing services with the RMOW.

"A mega-brand simply means that you are now well ingrained in the hearts and minds of your core target group. And what that means is you can begin to leverage (the brand)... to the point where you have permission to start to sell a broader range of goods and services."

Rae's position, which was created in the last year, is designed solely to find and pursue business opportunities for the municipality.

RMOW representatives could not comment on the potential acquisition of the company, a deal which is still in closed-door negotiations, other than to say it is an opportunity that is in the community's best interests for the local government to consider.

But other business opportunities are also on the horizon.

The new SmartPark parking metres, which were introduced this month, have opened the door for another moneymaking project.

These in-car metres allow people to buy time on a card instead of using the traditional outdoor parking metres. As such, you only pay for the time you park and nothing extra.

The metres are built in Israel and the municipality seriously looked into the opportunity to be a North American distributor of the parking systems throughout Western Canada and the United States.

But that deal fell through when the Israeli company insisted the municipality buy ten of thousands of the units and store them here.

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