Opinion » Editorial

Remembering what makes Whistler a community



One only needs to recall the remarkable fundraisers in Whistler, and the good that is done by those who live here, to be reminded of what an amazing community we live in.

Still it was eye-opening to be part of a crowd of over 500 last week to listen to a talk on parenting by Dr. Gabor Maté, a renowned thinker on addictions, stress and childhood development.

It goes without saying that the majority of parents are concerned about how their kids will do in life and want to help in whatever way they can. And though the shelves of libraries and bookstores are filled with books on the subject, there really is no manual — still parents keep searching for one.

But what does it say about Whistler that hundreds turned out for Maté's talk on attachment theory?

(This is a theory that postulates that infants, toddlers, teens — kids in general — need to attach to a loving parent, and receive unconditional love and acceptance back in order to avoid the pitfalls of being overly stressed and prone to making poor, or even dangerous, decisions about their lives. Indeed Maté argues that Attention Deficit Disorder and even addictions can be traced back to a lack of attachment in childhood.)

On the surface it clearly says there's a significant number of people who want to be good parents, though it should be noted that the audience contained a fair number of people who work in the community, but are not parents.

But beyond that it says there is a genuine desire to create a place to live that is nurturing, safe, and caring. And surely not just for our own kids — but also for the thousands of youth who come here every year to work.

The resort's reputation as a party town is well deserved, no doubt. But it is not all we are. That is the business we are in, but it does not reflect all of the values of the community that calls Whistler home.

Those values go to the core of the vision for the resort and in the past have been reflected in the development of the resort and the way it has been run by local government.

While every armchair critic can point fingers at councils past, there is little doubt that our leaders did what they believed best for the town at the time.

Finger pointing was rampant in the last municipal election, which saw the ousting of the entire council and mayor. But put down the boxing gloves for a moment and recall that the council and mayor of 2008-2011 negotiated with some of the toughest and biggest on the block, and helped the town host one of the best Winter Olympic Games in history.

Keeping Whistler inside its bed cap and true to it's vision as an outdoor recreation mecca that wants to house its employees in the community were core values for that council...and Whistler. As was securing government recognition for what Whistler brings to provincial coffers, in the way of new money the resort could use to invest in its future.

Our current council inherited a town coming down off the peaks and slumping into a recession made only worse by the very fact that everyone was used to being "Olympic" busy. There were local issues too, of course.

But part of what drives this council has been the basic belief that, "a rising tide lifts all boats." By driving room-night visits and increasing the visitor numbers everyone in the resort benefits.

And the numbers don't lie. Tourism Whistler reports that August numbers are up six per cent over last year, which were up over the previous year as well.

Has this council addressed every issue on the election table last time around? No. Asphalt is still being produced at Cheakamus Crossing and pay parking is still in effect in the Day Lots.

But it could be argued that both of these issues reached conclusions that offered concessions to both sides of their respective debates. In the "real" world nothing is ever as easy as black and white.

What is clear for Whistler is that supporting each other in times of need, and celebrating with each when times are good, is part of who we are.