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Taking in 'The View From Here'

Corridor stakeholders discuss present and future of Whistler



Stakeholders from Whistler and the Sea to Sky region met to discuss the future of the resort at an event hosted by the Whistler Real Estate Company (WREC) and sponsored by BlueShore Financial on Saturday.

Speakers at the event — called "The View From Here" with a theme of New Horizons — included WREC president Pat Kelly, MLA Jordan Sturdy, Resort Municipality of Whistler CAO Mike Furey, Whistler Blackcomb COO Pete Sonntag, Lil'wat Nation political chief Dean Nelson and Helmut Pastrick, chief economist for Central 1 Credit Union.

Each speaker was given 30 minutes, followed by a short Q&A.

Pastrick was up first, giving an overview of economic conditions at home and around the world.

"The global economy is on a good growth swing, and there's no recession on the horizon, at least not when you look at economic internals," Pastrick told the crowd of about 175 people.

That being said, trade policy and geopolitical conflicts could change things quickly, Pastrick said.

"When you think of what's going on in North Korea, the Middle East, South China Sea... any one of those could blow up and cause obviously very negative shock to financial markets, to the economy, and then down we go into recession," he said.

But as long as the external indicators stay positive, Whistler, Vancouver and B.C. will continue to do well, Pastrick said.

"We are a small economy and we are very much subject to those external forces, so I think the tourism outlook will remain positive," he said. "Even if the Canadian dollar does appreciate some more, I don't think it will be too damaging. I think it needs to be 90 cents plus, near parity, then you'll begin to see a much more negative effect from foreigners in reaction to the higher dollar.

"I think we'll see the Sea to Sky region perform well this year and probably next year."

Sturdy took the podium next, and spent much of his time speaking about transportation, housing and capacity issues.

"You build it and they will come. They are coming," Sturdy said. "The forecast is good... clearly the direction is positive economically, development-wise, but it comes with development pressures, it comes with capacity issues, and we've all seen it at Joffre Lakes."

In the case of Joffre, the province recently counted 2,500 people on the trail in one day, Sturdy said, to an audible reaction from the crowd.

"This is a balancing act that we need to understand, because at the end of the day, it's about the quality of the experience that the people who live here have, and equally the quality of the experience that the people who visit here have, and that's our job," Sturdy said.

"We don't have a drawbridge, and many would never advocate for one. But when Squamish is forecasted to double in population in the next 20 years... our quality of lives are going to be affected, so it's something that we have to focus on."

Pick up Thursday's Pique for the full story.


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