Like so many years before 2016 seems to have flown past.
For most heading into 2017 is both welcome and also laden with a lurking apprehension. For an international destination such as Whistler the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president has left most wishing for a visit from the ghost of what is Yet to Come to prepare for what could be.
It could be a bonus for Whistler as American and other travellers decide to holiday in Canada, but it could also have long-lasting damaging effects on our economy as Trump vows to look at the free-trade agreement, softwood lumber policies and more.
Perhaps of most concern is his position on climate change, considering that is long-term concerns for all mountain resorts. It's hard to know what Trump will do on this file given that he has called it both a hoax and said he has an open mind on the issue.
But let's consider that the people he has chosen to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior — the three agencies with the greatest influence on energy policy — have either denied or said they are skeptical of a fact that most scientists agree on, that humans are impacting the climate causing global warming.
Many pundits in the U.S. also expect him to abandon commitments made under the Paris climate agreement last year.
Here in Canada in 2016 there were highs and lows on the climate front. On Dec. 9 the federal government released the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.
"This is a major milestone in Canada's history," wrote Ian Bruce, director of science and policy at the David Suzuki Foundation recently.
"For the first time, Canada has built the foundation of an effective national climate plan that, if fully implemented, would put the country within striking distance of meeting our 2030 greenhouse gas target."
However, Bruce cautions that Canada has the weakest 2030 emissions target of any G7 country, and the national plan is still shy of meeting Canada's Paris commitment.
Canada announced last November that it is speeding up the plan to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030 as part of its comprehensive plan to make Canada a leader in green energy.
According to Christopher Barrington-Leigh, an assistant professor in the School of Environment at McGill University, in 2016, renewable energy surpassed coal as the largest source of installed power capacity in the world.
But more bold steps are needed. How about following the example of the German upper house, the Bundesrat, which has voted to ban gasoline-powered cars by 2030?
Too bad Whistler couldn't do more on that front.
Here at home the last year has been dominated by social issues such as housing and finding employees — both a struggle locally thanks to the terrific popularity of our hometown. The buzz phrase has been that's "it's a great problem to have"
But that doesn't alter the fact these are serious issues. Local government is moving to address the housing issue with new employee restricted buildings being considered and a home matching program being set up, but for now there is serious strain on the resort across these two fronts.
2016 also saw the sale of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings (WB) to Vail Resorts. Too early to say how this will impact the community but it would be naïve to believe that losing local control of the mountains will not have an effect — from what is purchased and sold through WB stores to how employees are treated change is coming.
The success of Whistler no doubt played a role in Vail Resort's desire to buy WB whether it wanted to be bought or not. And the success is driving another issue that will continue into 2017 — the traffic congestion.
A public forum is planned with the Transportation Advisory Group in January — a must attend meeting for the community if this one is to be tackled head on.
There is no crystal ball for 2017.
Let's hope that the resort remains busy and that solutions can be found for the issues that come from such success.
Perhaps personal resolutions around driving, being a responsible landlord or tenant, not wasting food and planting a bee garden could all be on our lists for 2017.
What resolutions could Whistler adopt to make 2017 a good year? Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and share them.