Whistler is getting ready to chose and welcome its new municipal government with voters set to go the poles Nov.15.
This is a council which will need to have continued depth, and an ability to pursue strategic thinking, as the resort heads towards a future where affordability, our official community plan, Whistler 2020, the future of the RMI money and village refurbishment are on the horizon — to name just a few of the issues the municipality is facing.
These are multi-faceted ventures, which could include things like facilitating aging in place, revisiting the way Whistler views success and strategizing how to pay for the plans.
As we head to the polls let's look at the candidates running and carefully think about their broad experiences, their track record with consensus building, their ability to think creatively and to represent all residents, and to some extent the visitors too.
Everyone has their own subjective ideas and agendas when it comes to taking office in government, and no doubt that does play a role in getting elected. But the only way Whistler can continue to have success is if those elected all work together in the best interests of the municipality, and not just to further their own goals.
Looking to the past we all remember the example of long-time former councillor and mayor Ken Melamed. Generally accepted to be the "green" chair on council, Melamed voted against bringing the 2010 Olympics to town in 2002. Despite voting against the Games Melamed did everything he could when elected as mayor to make sure the event was a huge success for the resort — while he never compromised his principles, the need for the resort to embrace the Games and leverage it for maximum positive exposure had to take the front seat when it came to laying down strategy.
So can candidates get elected with special interests at the forefront of their campaign? Yes. Should these interests be the only crucible they use to make decisions? Absolutely not. The challenge is electing those who can see beyond their special interests. You simply can't have a set of rules that everything can be filtered through to get to the right answers. Most of the time the "right" answer is a compromise of many different answers, which can leave people feeling that they have not been fully served.
Municipal politics is a different beast than provincial and federal politics. At these two senior levels voters, to some extent, expect those they are electing to treat the job as a full-time commitment — to embrace it as a career choice in fact.
At the municipal levels, while voters expect candidates to be committed to the job, it is not seen as a career. It is a civic duty — a post one takes on to make the community we all live in stronger. Let me say here a heartfelt thank-you to all those who ran for council. Successful or not, stepping forward in the hopes of making a Whistler a better place is to be commended.)
Since this council took office, several major reports have been developed and brought before it in various stages — the Council Action Plan, the Corporate Plan, the Learning and Education Report, the Economic Partnership Initiative Report, the Recreation and Leisure Master Plan and Whistler Village 3.0 along with financial plans and reports.
These are major planning documents packed full of vital information and ideas about our home. As you would expect, the incumbents: Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, Andrée Janyk, John Grills and Jack Crompton, used them in their answers at the three all-candidates meetings and in the on going discussion stream on social media.
Disturbingly, a clear comprehension of these documents was not apparent in listening to those running for election at the meetings. In some cases the candidates admitted to not having read them. One would think if you were applying for a job that you would do your research about the "organization" you want to work for and be very familiar with its operating principles and strategies. No matter which of the incoming candidates are elected it's clear they have a lot of homework to do before the first council meeting on Dec.2.
At the top of the list in many ways are the financial reports. To reiterate what Pique columnist Bob Barnett said recently; "After three straight years with no tax increases, with RMI money in question, with infrastructure aging and in a global economy teetering on the edge of another precipice, the next Whistler council is going to have to manage money and services very astutely over the next four years (Pique, Oct. 23)."
In making your choices at the ballot box think about whom you want managing the community's tax dollars.