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Next phase of CSP to be presented in May

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Whistler’s future is now up to the people.

In May, Whistler residents will be presented with a handful of scenarios, which will chart different future developments in the resort. They will then be asked to take their pick.

This is the second stage of Whistler. It’s Our Future , the process, which will eventually lead to the development of the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan.

At Monday’s council meeting Mayor Hugh O’Reilly said that the CSP is the municipality’s top priority.

The CSP will replace the Official Community Plan as the foremost municipal document guiding future decisions for the resort.

To date five scenarios have been developed in the Whistler. It’s Our Future process. Each scenario outlines a different future for the resort.

The first scenario will sketch an outlook where Whistler follows the OCP guidelines and eventually reaches buildout. This is the scenario, which has been envisioned by community members for a long time, and was developed years ago when the OCP was first written.

Scenario two will show a future where more employee housing is created in town.

Scenario three will show the development of the town within a regional context. This scenario falls closely in line with the first scenario in that the regional areas will be developed by default if Whistler sticks with the OCP and follows its buildout design.

The fourth scenario presents a future where the economy is diversified into more traditional industries.

The final scenario shows Whistler as primarily a mature destination resort, moving towards a second home economy.

"We’re starting to develop what Whistler would look like in the future under those scenarios," said Tom Fletcher, project manager of Whistler. It’s Our Future .

He cautions that this list of scenarios may be refined in the next two months as the project planners work through them.

Council has also asked that these scenarios be presented to a broad-based advisory committee. This committee will act as a sounding board for staff over the next seven weeks as the five scenarios are fleshed out. Fletcher said there will be announcements soon to let people know how to get involved in that committee.

By May however, the scenarios should be ready to take to the community in a workshop, using maps, narratives and comparisons.

The Quest computer model will also be used. This model allows users to input various factors into the program and ultimately show how those factors affect the future.

The model is programmed using two types of data; hard data, like facts and figures, as well as data which includes information that people care about, like the amount of snowfall expected in the future.

Different scenarios of what Whistler will look like down the road are developed when changing different elements in the program.

For example, Quest can make future Whistler scenarios based on uncontrolled development, or a population that has doubled in size or vast economic diversification.

The community can then decided the merits and pitfalls of each scenario.

Fletcher said he senses a lot of anxiety in the community about using a computer model to map the future of the resort.

"We really just see it as a tool," said Fletcher.

The workshop will give the community the chance to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each scenario.

The five scenarios to date were drafted after community input in the summer and fall. At that time the community outlined the various criteria which make a successful and sustainable destination resort.

The community pointed to roughly 50 criteria that contribute to the success and sustainability of Whistler. Some of the key criteria that were outlined at the time were the need to maintain a sense of place in Whistler through things like enhancing the village. Another big factor was having affordable housing for residents and general affordability to keep people living and working here. The environment was another big issue, with many residents recognizing that the future of the community may depend of the preservation of the natural environment.

Although the community workshop is tentatively scheduled for May 24, groups in town will also have the opportunity to have their own workshops, just as they did in Phase One of Whistler. It’s Our Future.

For those community members who do not want to take part in a group or who cannot make the community workshop meeting, they will also have the chance to go through the scenarios online with a workbook.

Fletcher said he is hoping to have a preferred scenario presented to council by July. If council is happy with that choice then they will write up all the action plans and outline the directions needed to get to that future.

A draft plan is expected to be ready for council to review and approve by late November.

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