The issue of post-secondary education in Whistler is finally getting to the thesis stage, but it could be at the expense of Whistler University.
The Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) decision to start a formal nine-month exploratory study into the feasibility of post-secondary education may kill off plans for Whistler U said the agent for the developer of the project Doug Player. The decision to do the study came at the regular council meeting on Tuesday, June 19.
"I don't know whether we'll continue, I guess that's all I can say right now," Player said in an interview the morning after the vote.
Council directed staff to take the next nine months to start the groundwork on evaluating proposals and gathering community input.
At the meeting, Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden noted that the two current proponents for post-secondary models, Capilano University and Whistler University, had already offered extensive research, groundwork and presentations and this means, "that it's time for our processes to catch up with theirs."
"It's probably going to be the biggest decision that this council makes in this term. And we have to do it right... we absolutely have to follow our due diligence," she said. "I think if you look at what this council has done so far, we hadn't done any of those things... so we have to have the time to gather enough information to make the decision that will best benefit this community."
This means there will be no quick conclusion or decision on what post-secondary education will look like in the resort, certainly not quick enough for Player, who believes the decision has created a two-year delay for WhistlerU.
"I thought six years was long enough... It's a strange place to put this, two weeks after the (Official Community Plan), and I'm not sure what the plan is there," he said.
"I think council is very sincere. We've had our reasons to wonder about the motives of the staff... what can I say. I'm not sure why they need the full nine months to do the process."
Player left the meeting immediately after the vote and spoke to the developer, John Zen, who owns the land put forward as the proposed campus site.
"We do have options, and I think we have to (review them). We had a brief discussion (after the meeting)," Player said.
At the meeting, Councillor Duane Jackson noted that the potential for post-secondary education was currently wide open, and reserved judgment on the various options for Whistler.
"It allows the community to not just be limited to a discussion about some of the applications, but also to look at what is going on in the world in terms of developments in post-secondary education, and what other things that we could consider here in the community that ties in to education and diversification," he said. "I look forward to some of that feedback as well."