The longer I live in Whistler, the more I think that the dictionary has it all wrong when it comes to defining the word “community”. From what I’ve seen it’s not a noun so much as a verb — it doesn’t exist without people taking action. The community is not where we live, it’s what we do, and the more we put into it, the more we get out of it.
If people ever stopped trying to bring us together, the community would disappear. It can’t exist without those efforts. We would still have our neighbours, but we wouldn’t know them. I doubt many of us would even still be here, because for all the natural beauty and recreation that’s available to us it’s really the community that makes it all so worthwhile.
The number of volunteer hours that Whistler residents put into community events is staggering, and should be recognized. This month alone volunteers will organize and help put on three Loonie Races, four other mountain bike events (Samurai of Singletrack, West Side Wheel Up, Soo Valley Rumble, and Cheakamus Challenge), as well as the Terry Fox Run, Loop the Lakes trail run in Squamish and the Rubble Creek Classic.
The Rotary Club is hosting a volunteer-run family fun day on Sept. 23. The Habitat Improvement Team, sponsored by Whistler-Blackcomb, planted some mountain Ash trees on the north side of Whistler Mountain last week to create a new bear habitat. Matchstick Productions put on a free showing of their new ski movie last weekend, called Seven Sunny Days.
According to Matchstick Productions’ tour director Steve Reska, it was all for the community.
“We wanted to do this free show because Whistler is our second home. The support we get from this community is incredible and we wanted to screen the movie to as many people as possible.”
It isn’t easy maintaining a community in Whistler. Real estate prices and availability have prompted a lot of would-be community members to relocate up and down the highway to Pemberton and Squamish. The higher cost-of-living also means that a lot of people need to work two jobs to make ends meet, making it harder to participate in, or volunteer for, community events. A large part of our workforce is also transient, and will only call Whistler home for a winter or two.
And let’s face it, we’ve all been extremely busy for the last year and a half. The resort is doing well from a tourism perspective, we have an acute employee shortage, and the number of ongoing construction projects have community members racking up a lot of overtime.