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Quinlan to challenge for council seat

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Chris Quinlan has become the fourth new candidate for a seat on Whistler council.

Quinlan, 39, said frustration is what has driven him to enter the political arena.

"What really, really pushed it was last week, having breakfast with some friends who have a young family and a very successful business based in Whistler," Quinlan said.

"They said they were looking to buy a house, but they were looking in Squamish."

Quinlan owns Behind the Grind coffee shop and Play Whistler Adventures, a company specializing in heli-mountain biking. He has not previously run for political office but he has worked on municipal election campaigns in his hometown, Nanaimo.

Earlier this year Quinlan organized a petition against the municipality’s proposed $1 million Web site. The Web site was later put on hold.

Quinlan sees Whistler as made up of human resources and natural resources, and both are being mismanaged, he feels.

"We’re driving our human resources away. There’s no affordable housing and there’s no plan to make things affordable for small business," he said.

The Comprehensive Sustainability Process is also a source of frustration.

"The present council was elected to lead. They asked for our opinion (on the consultants invited to bid on the CSP), they received that, then they rejected it," Quinlan said.

"They hired consultants we didn’t want, then paid them $750,000 to ask us our opinion."

Quinlan says he is frustrated with the current administration and local businesses are frustrated.

"They don’t listen."

He said ffordability means more than just affordable housing, it includes prudent financial planning.

"I see this as a great opportunity to work with some fantastic new, energetic people on council," Quinlan said.

"This is the crux of it."

A Whistler resident since 1991, Quinlan has been involved in the hospitality industry for years and has held management positions most of that time, including at Blackcomb Mountain, the Blackcomb Beer and Wine Store and Hoz’s Pub.

He was an active member of the Creekside Merchants Association and is heavily involved in WORCA events, including MCing Summer Session, Joyride, the Cheakamus Challenge and this weekend’s Whistler Mountain Bike Festival. He has also done some MCing for the Whistler Community Arts Council.

"I do it because I believe in getting involved in community activities," Quinlan said.

Other declared council candidates in the Nov. 16 municipal elections include Caroline Lamont, a professional planner, Gordon McKeever, owner of Rainbow Retreats, and Ralph Forsyth, a ski instructor and businessman. Dave Davenport, owner of Skitch and Mountain Crests, is running for mayor.

Among the incumbent council members, Mayor Hugh O’Reilly and Councillors Stephanie Sloan and Nick Davies have announced they will seek re-election.

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