Bill Barratt is a man who takes obvious pride in what he has achieved through his time in Whistler. It's been substantial, there's no doubt. He's worked hard for his success and, by natural extension, the success of the town.
But he can be a difficult man to read. His eyes are not windows but rather barricades into whatever's going on inside; and that, coupled with the air of success he brings into whichever room he's in, are likely to throw people off upon first impressions.
When Pique spoke with him, however, he was congenial, friendly if a little brusque, and frank about his time in Whistler - what he thought about it, as well as the people who live here. He's a forceful individual, and one who understands Whistler's personality, having personally and professionally invested in its development for nearly 30 years. It's allowed him to make some difficult decisions with the ability to back them up with nary a thought about the criticisms that have been flung his way.
There was no indication that any controversy he commented on over this past year has anything to do with his departure. If anything, he's a man with a plan that has been set out for years and now its time has come.
Pique: You said (last Monday) that you didn't think people would find this retirement a big deal. Why is that?
Barratt: "Well, you know you're doing your job, you've been here a long time, inevitably you're going to retire. It's just - ( shrugs shoulders, shakes head ). But my staff keeps saying, 'this is a big deal, this is a big deal!' I'm like, 'Why?' 'Well, because you've been here so long.' Okay.
But the reality is change is a big deal. That's what's the big deal here. Any time you have change at a senior level, yeah, I guess it gets people's attention, but I wouldn't be here forever, right?"
Pique: What's the number one highlight of your career here so far?
Barratt: "It's easy to say the Games, but y'know, it would have to be Meadow Park Sports Centre because it was the first pure community facility. Someone made a comment to me that Whistler became a community when that facility was built because it was a gathering place for the community...
"There's always been a community here but we were building a resort and there was a real focus on getting the resort built, so the community facilities kind of came on after. Even though the community benefited from the resort and the visitors benefit from those community facilities, there wasn't a purposely built (facility). 'Hey this is for you.' And that's what that was. It was pretty cool. And the Games of course were...."
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