When the fertile shoots of spring's first growth emerged from the mountain earth all around us this April, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) embarked on a community journey to update our Official Community Plan (OCP).
Whistler's OCP update is a year-long process being led by the RMOW and informed by community input every step of the way. An OCP is a provincially-mandated regulatory document and set of high level plans and policies that guide land use planning, social, economic, and environmental policies, and civic infrastructure investments. Whistler's updated OCP will provide direction for meeting Whistler's anticipated needs over the next five years and beyond in support of Whistler's community's vision - to be the premier mountain resort as we move toward sustainability.
And what a trip it's been. For the past six months we have been having a deliberate community conversation designed to develop shared direction for the OCP update. We brainstormed in backyards, wrote Haiku on the street in Function Junction, created glorious children's art at the Whistler Children's Art Festival, had big community workshops, Council work sessions, youth-led community asset mapping, met second homeowners in North Vancouver and hosted a well-attended Aging in Place Community Forum for seniors. I have received OCP update input while skating at Meadow Park with my kids, watching hockey at Tapley's and in the Village Square. Every image and word is considered and valuable.
We should consider the reach this little mountain town of 10,000 really has - a group of dedicated and caring Whistler second homeowners from the U.K. even organized and hosted two Whistler Backyard Brainstorms in Manchester. "We call them back gardens over here," read the note I got from a British brainstorm organizer. Yard, garden... it doesn't matter where it happened, it's the collective input that really matters.
Add to this over 35 committed Whistler citizens - ranging in age from 13 to beyond wise - who have been advising the RMOW on the OCP update through their crucial roles on the Youth Advisory Group and Community Advisory Group, and we have all the ingredients for an updated OCP that understands and addresses the collective issues, opportunities and actions of this great community.
Now for the recipe. On Wednesday, Nov. 24 the RMOW will host "Our Community, Our Plan" at the Whistler Conference Centre from 6 to 9 p.m. This community workshop will launch us into the next phase of the OCP update, eventually culminating in the release of a draft updated OCP next spring - one year after we planted the seeds in our fertile planning garden. We have listened and what you have said has helped shape well over 100 Proposed General Directions for the OCP update. These directions are blueprints for updated and new policies that will lay the foundation for a solid OCP update.
"Our Community, Our Plan" is a chance for anyone to let us know what you think about the directions proposed for the OCP update. And being Whistler on the night before the official opening day on the mountains, we've thrown in a couple Twister-Daffy-Spreads. Whistler resident and global ski writer Leslie Anthony will riff PechaKucha style on being an engaged Whistlerite and five lucky folks will walk away from the meeting with a Whistler Blackcomb Edge Card in hand.
Beyond all this, the real fun will happen at small tables where you will get to choose your own adventure and review and support (or not) OCP update proposed general directions for six OCP chapter areas - Economic Viability, Natural Environment, Land Use and Development, Transportation and Infrastructure, Climate Action, Energy and Resources and Quality of Life. In full Whistler style, you will indicate support for each proposed direction with a lightboard tool: OPEN for supported, CLOSED for unsupported and STANDBY for not enough information to decide.
Then, early the next morning, we can all meet at the real lightboard on the mountain and rip it up. See you at the Conference Centre the night before Whistler's winter begins.
For more information and tools on how you can provide input to the OCP update, check out www.whistler20120.com.