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New position at municipal hall for former employee

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Mike Vance to take lead on CSP, Olympic issues

A familiar face in municipal hall is coming back to town with a distinct goal in mind – to finish Whistler’s Comprehensive Sustainability Plan successfully.

Mike Vance, who was the director of planning in Whistler throughout most of the 1990s, is coming back to Whistler after a five-year stint in Mammoth Lakes, California.

He is taking on the newly created position of general manager of community initiatives at the RMOW in the coming weeks. It is a new department and Vance will report directly to Municipal Administrator Jim Godfrey.

His job, in addition to completing the CSP, is to oversee a number of community projects as well as Olympic related initiatives and resort communities association projects.

Vance said his tasks will most likely evolve over time.

Though he’s sad to leave Mammoth, he’s also excited about coming back to his old home.

"I have a lot of friends in Whistler," he said from Mammoth this week.

"I lived there for a long time so it’s nice to come back."

That’s not to say there isn’t things he will miss about Mammoth, particularly his friends there and the 300 days of sunshine annually.

When Vance first arrived in Mammoth in 1998, the place was poised for change. There was a lot of new village development proposed, Intrawest was making inroads in the town and there were many issues around housing, design and transportation that had to be addressed.

"All of the policy framework for dealing with sustainability and growth also needed to be dealt with,’" he said.

He took on the role of development director and worked on updating Mammoth’s community plan, incorporating sustainability practices.

"It’s actually surprising in that we chose a similar approach that Whistler did... in that we’re modelling our future," he said.

While the Mammoth general plan did not follow the guiding principles of The Natural Step framework, it did adhere to the California Environmental Quality Act for its environmental performance measures.

The Mammoth plan is half way to completion and Vance will continue to help with their plan while he works on the CSP in Whistler.

"There’s going to be an interesting exchange of ideas," he said.

"Each (town) has its own character and its own future. Mammoth will be different than Whistler but both are very strong communities. Both have concerns about how we’re growing and in everything that’s done there’s an accountability issue to the community."

Vance first started working at municipal hall 25 years ago. His first position was as the municipality’s development officer for three years. He also worked for the Whistler Village Land Company, the Colorado firm Design Workshop, and Blackcomb Skiing Enterpreises. He returned to the municipality in 1987, taking up the position of director of planning from 1988 to 1998.

His family lives in Whistler and for the past year they have been commuting back and forth to Mammoth.

Vance’s job begins on Oct. 6.

Meanwhile the municipality is still putting the finishing touches on the next phase of the CSP. Once released to the public that plan will highlight five different scenarios, each depicting Whistler in 2020. The community will be asked to pick the best scenario for the future. The CSP will then replace the Comprehensive Development Plan and Whistler 2002 as the guiding plan for Whistler’s sustainable future.

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