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Putting the grass in grassroots action



Maxwell Smart, the 1960s TV era private eye with the shoe phone and seeming good luck to be in the right time and place to thwart the onslaught of KAOS has a lot in common with the engaged community of Whistler.

Whistler’s citizens, who have committed their passion, vision, time and energy to design and develop the Whistler2020 strategies and get stuff done through annual task force action planning won a 2008 Smarty Award in the “People” category for communities under 50,000 at the 2008 Smart Growth B.C. Awards. Through guidance, action planning and a shared journey toward our Whistler2020 vision, Whistler’s citizens have proven community engagement and grassroots action is a great way to move forward and get smart. Together, we’re putting the grass in grassroots action planning.

In the process of becoming one of the most engaged, action-oriented and sustainability-minded small communities in this province, Whistler has embraced the opportunity to thwart potential chaos through a common-sense approach to creating our collective future and collaborative action-oriented planning that results in connected community members and more efficient use of limited community resources. Unlike Maxwell Smart, Whistler has done this with very few techno-gimmicks, preferring creative engagement, a pragmatic vision and hard work over shoe phones and oil-slick dropping cars.

At the award ceremony in Vancouver, Whistler Councillor Tim Wake, who has been a task force member since their initiation in 2004, accepted the award on behalf of all Whistler2020 community task force members, edging out applications from the B.C. communities of Ucluelet and Golden. What an engaging trip it’s been...

We are now through the fifth straight year of annual community task force action planning.

During this time, roughly 350 actions have been developed, recommended and accepted for completion by dozens of organizations. With around 80 per cent of accepted actions already completed or currently in progress, the community task forces have designed a big chunk of the positive, on the ground actions in Whistler since their first convention a half decade ago.

I work with every one of the task forces and it amazes me to witness the dedication, commitment and consistent passion displayed by the citizens who attend the task force get-togethers. This award proves one of the key things about Whistler2020 — it has been developed and enacted for the community, by the community. With over 30 community partners and over 40 lead organizations accepting and carrying out actions, this is not a municipal plan, nor is it just a plan… it is our shared vision, plan and living, annual process for creating the Whistler we want for the future. The Resort Municipality of Whistler is just one of many committed partners dedicated to delivering that future.

Community task force members contribute around 2,000 hours of their collective time every spring to review performance data and develop a shared current reality of where we are today. This shared understanding of today in relation to the vision of success and sustainability in the future enables them to create collaborative, positive and creative actions which will accelerate our coordinated journey forward.

All of the 175 Whistlerites currently making up our Whistler2020 community task forces, please take a bow. Your commitment has been awarded, your passion rewarded and your collective work on grassroots action creation and execution has made this resort community more resilient, flexible and sustainable over time.

Long-term, positive engagement without a ring… and no shoe phone either. That’s smart.

To learn more about other actions that are moving our community toward Whistler2020 or to get involved, visit .

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