Opinion » Editorial

Ready to put your money where your mouth is?



As of today (Aug. 24), nomination packages for Whistler's upcoming by-election are available at whistler.ca/candidates.

It's the first by-election in the Resort Municipality of Whistler since 1982, when provincially appointed alderman Al Raine was replaced by Terry Rodgers, and just the second by-election in local history.

The circumstances surrounding the upcoming vote are indeed tragic — Councillor Andree Janyk was a pillar in the community and contributed much to the public life.

But in her passing lies an opportunity for other civic-minded folks to get involved. And judging by some of the comments online, there are several Whistlerites who feel like they could do a better job than our current mayor and council.

Ready to put your money where your mouth is?

With just one year left in the term, the ideal candidate would likely be someone with council experience — a former councillor, or someone well versed in the recent happenings at municipal hall.

"The current council wants to get things done, so somebody who is coming in who may not have council experience is going to be expected to come up to speed pretty darn quickly," Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden told Pique in an interview last month.

"There's going to be a lot of hard work on that person's part."

But it's also an interesting opportunity for someone who may be eyeing a 2018 bid (the next round of municipal elections in B.C. is slated for Oct. 20 of next year).

What better way to get your feet wet than with a one-year seat at the council table?

If you've never held public office before, it's the perfect trial run, and will undoubtedly give you a leg up on the competition in next year's election.

And if recent trends are any indication, the 2018 vote will be one to watch.

In comparison to 2011's electoral circus — which saw eight candidates vying for Mayor and 25 (!) vying for a council seat — the 2014 vote was a mild affair.

That year the electorate was clearly very happy with the state of the resort — only nine people put their name in for councillor, and just one person challenged incumbent Wilhelm-Morden for the mayor's seat (Shane Bennett, who sadly passed away last May).

Wilhelm-Morden was quite right in describing Whistler as facing a "watershed" moment in a recent online discussion — the resort has done very well for itself in recent years, but with new owners at Whistler Blackcomb, a new government in Victoria, ongoing pressures on housing, affordability, traffic and more, everything seems to be coming to a head.

Now more than ever, the resort needs fresh ideas and strong leadership.

Public service is a thankless job. You're never going to please everybody, and Whistler officials have a diverse range of interests to serve: locals, seasonals, tourists, second homeowners and, yes, corporations.

It's one thing to sit behind your keyboard and bash our local leadership from the comfort of your living room — it's quite another to actually commit yourself to the role.

Here's to hoping that some of the community's best and brightest are up to the task this October, and in the years to come.

What you need to know

Candidate nomination packages for the Oct. 28 by-election will be available online at www.whistler.ca/candidates and at municipal hall (4325 Blackcomb Way) on Aug. 24.

Nominations will be accepted for 10 days, from 9 a.m. on Sept. 12 to 4 p.m. on Sept. 22.

Chief Election Officer Laurie-Anne Schimek is available by appointment to review nomination packages and answer questions related to the election.

Appointments can be scheduled by email — elections@whistler.ca — or by calling municipal hall at 604-932-5535 and asking to speak with the Chief Election Officer.

To cast a ballot in the Whistler by-election you must be a Canadian citizen and either live in Whistler or own property in Whistler (while living elsewhere in British Columbia).

Residents and property owners are reminded to confirm their eligibility to vote by calling municipal hall.

Voting will be open on Oct. 28 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (polling station details will be confirmed in the coming weeks at www.whistler.ca/election).

Advance voting will be available in person on Wednesday, Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 21 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Mail-in ballots are available for those with physical disabilities, injuries or illnesses, as well as for those expecting to be absent on all other voting days.

More information will be posted online at www.whistler.ca/election on August 24.