A ranch in Lillooet isn’t about to stop Eckhard Zeidler from
taking another stab at a council seat in November’s election.
Zeidler, a first-term councillor, confirmed on Sept. 2 that he
will be seeking re-election as a councillor for the Resort Municipality of
Whistler. The announcement comes after weeks of speculation and uncertainty
about his political future.
“Being a wet behind the ears part-time farmer this summer was a
bit of a shock for my time management but things have settled in nicely so now
I’m raring to go with sufficient time and energy,” he wrote in an e-mail
“I’d be honoured to get kicked around for another three years
if the people of Whistler want me representing them at the council table.”
interview that the delay in announcing his candidacy was because he was trying
to get settled at a Lillooet ranch after buying a share in it in June. Now he
says he’ll have enough time to be a councillor and has decided to throw his hat
in the ring.
“I was always intending, or hoping to run again,” he said. “I
was concerned that I wouldn’t have time to do the work.
“At the council table, I like to do my homework, and that takes
a fair bit of research and time and I wanted to make sure that I would have
that time available for the people of Whistler.”
Since being elected in 2005, Zeidler has made it a personal
priority to ensure that Whistler is a sustainable and democratic community. And
with sustainability well-entrenched as a community priority, his next focus is
the resort municipality’s finances.
“The last five-year financial plan was fairly contentious and a
difficult process for council,” he said. “Although it may not be a feel-good
kind of a campaign, we have much, much more work to do to fully stabilize this
community and get it on a good fiscal footing.”
Money has been an issue under the current council. Community
members have not hidden their opposition to this year’s 5.5 per cent rise in
The increase meant that residential owners were charged an
additional $11 for every $100,000 of assessed value in their homes, while
Whistler businesses paid an additional $35 for every $100,000 of assessed value.
“I don’t think Whistler taxpayers are going to be particularly
keen on ever escalating taxes,” Zeidler said. “I think there’s a lot of hard
decisions to be made, and there’s going to be some sacred cows that go, but we
have to get on a strong footing for the future.”
Though finances will figure as a large concern for Zeidler if
he’s elected, he also expects to give a lot of attention to environmental
issues within the RMOW’s boundaries. The development of a transit hub over a
wetland near Nesters is something he has already raised concerns about with
council, but he won’t give it up if elected again.
“There’s not much I can do about the land, the land’s been
pretty much cleared,” he said. “But I am concerned for transit, that they may
not have all the permits and requirements in place that they say they needed.”
Though proud of the work that council has completed during its
tenure, Zeidler’s stance on some issues has been controversial. He raised the
ire of some Whistler residents when he attached a “Free Tibet” poster to the
back of his laptop, saying he wants to see a public debate about China’s human
One community member said he “despised” his actions, but
Zeidler said he only did it after hearing from Whistlerites, who said they were
concerned their community was ignoring human rights issues.
“I was being asked questions like, are you guys going to China
for the opening ceremonies? How does that make us look in Whistler,” he said.
“They didn’t want to be seen as turning a blind eye to ongoing
human rights violations and I know it got a lot of people upset that I would do
Zeidler’s announcement means he’s the fourth member of the current council who has agreed to stand in the next municipal election. Mayor Ken Melamed has already confirmed he will run, as have councillors Ralph Forsyth and Bob Lorriman.