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"Something is missing" in Whistler

Residents brainstorm new vision for community at a crossroads

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Concern about Whistler’s future enticed roughly 120 locals to a meeting where they could create a plan of action for the resort.

As part of the evening last Thursday they were asked to help write a vision statement for Whistler. While some in the group found that stimulating, others were frustrated by what they saw as taking a step backwards and focusing on words rather than actions.

The point of the exercise, however, was to create alignment in the community and get everyone on the same page.

"We need to all engage to be successful," said host and owner of Affinity Sports Scott Carrell to the crowd.

It was a diverse group at Millennium Place on Thursday, March 9.

Some such as Garry Watson came in part because they were curious. Others like Michel Beaudry came because they thought they had something to offer to the discussion. And still others came to support their friends, Carrell and Dave Halliwell, the two local businessmen who hosted the meeting.

Whatever their reason for coming, it was clear from the two and a half hour meeting that there is something on the minds of the local community – business is not what it was five years ago, the future is unclear and there is a palpable undercurrent of concern.

"It’s not that there’s anything wrong," explained Halliwell, who has been living in Whistler for 12 years. "It’s just that there’s something missing."

That’s how this whole process began, in a simple coffee shop conversation between Carrell and Halliwell several weeks ago.

Their musings struck a chord in the community and a groundswell of interest. More people started talking about what’s missing, the need for alignment and a sense that Whistler needs to work together. The conversation of two morphed into a living room chat between almost 30 people and a month after that initial coffee shop talk there were more than 120 community members ready to get to work.

That in itself is a testament to the community and its desire to work together, said Paul Tormey, general manager of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler who was among the crowd.

"I was once again just struck with the level of passion and desire for Whistler to succeed and be a quality place to live and work and bring customers to," he said.

A look around the room showed Whistler’s mayor, administrator and the president of Tourism Whistler sitting side by side. Other members of council were dotted throughout the MY Place theatre, along with small business owners, representatives of larger businesses and interested members of the community.

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