Photos by Vivian Moreau
My landlord is unimpressed when I call her in Ontario to complain about the 4 a.m. noise her son and his new roommates are making above me. In their early 20s and pumped with a few too many mid-week brewskis, their cue shots to the right corner pocket, resulting cheers, boos and foot stomping are keeping me awake.
"But that’s the way Whistler is," she says.
Not always. Although some, like my housemates, arrive in Whistler anticipating party central, many come to get away from a life, or like Kostas Lymbertos, to get to a life.
"Moving to Whistler is one of those decisions a lot of us make that live here," says the snowboard instructor and reggae musician. "It’s that turning point in life where you have to decide what is it you want to do, how happy can you be, where do you want to go?"
Statistics Canada reports that over half of Whistler’s population is between 20 and 34. Males make up 56 per cent of that age group. Although the majority have lived here less than five years, almost half have a college diploma or university degree. Three years ago complaints of rowdiness to municipal council were prolific, with police making as many as 15 arrests on weekend nights for drunkenness. But a shift in how Whistler cares for its mobile youth population has resulted in a corresponding shift in behaviour from the resort’s largest demographic.
Lymbertos could be Whistler’s poster guy for reinventing oneself. Born in Germany of Greek parents, Lymbertos grew up in Canada then spent 15 years in Florida. But working in the fast-paced fashion world burned him out and three years ago he came back to Canada.
By immersing himself in the community, he answered questions many young adults face. Lymbertos is one of 28 volunteer and paid Whistler-Blackcomb advisors, the go-to people in the seven staff housing buildings in the village. Each floor of the four and five storey buildings has at least one advisor, a person residents go to for information and advice about where to buy groceries, how to find inexpensive gear or how to get through the rainy November season.
Lisa Trombley supervises the house advisors and has doubled their numbers in her two years on the job. She has also worked to streamline operations, implementing a computerized booking system for new residents and bringing in a flat linen fee.
"You arrive with everything you own on your back, but not necessarily linens and towels," she says.
A cross between den mother and confidante, Trombley, 29, understands the stresses her 1,100-plus residents face, whether financial, physical or emotional.