Name: Brian Walker
Last book read: The Anatomy of Persuasion, by Norbert Aubuchon.
What music are you listening too these days: "Oh What A Feeling" Box set, 25 years of Juno Award winners. "Time loves a Hero" "Feats don't fail me now" Little Feat.
Favourite recreational pursuits: Reading, writing, cooking, dinner conversation and pedaling a vintage Valley Trail hard tail around town.
1. Why are you running for council?
Whistler's tourism based economy is fundamentally dependent on service. People in the service industry, by far, make up the majority of voters in Whistler. I'm running for mayor because it is long past time that Whistler's municipal policies reflected this fact. As long as Whistler has a tourism-based economy, people in our service industry will always be a true and genuine special interest for our resort community. Service deserves to have the voice of the mayor because it is critical to Whistler's success.
2. What are the biggest issues facing Whistler?
Employee accommodation, not employee housing, always has been the biggest issue facing Whistler. The greatest asset in any resort town is the service people who engage the guest. We are in the business of installing and servicing memories. Whistler needs to accommodate the service community into its resort community. Currently we are just looking for some place to house them.
The economy in Whistler is suffering in part because merchants have lost the business of the service community. Twenty-five per cent of the people in the service industry live in Pemberton or Squamish because it's the only place they can see light at the end of the tunnel. It's no surprise that's where they shop and go to restaurants.
Whistler has lost its vitality because it is no longer a village. Breaking the planning mold to suit Larco would harm present retailers and not do anything significant to enliven the village.
An arena in lots 1 and 9 would help MY Place usher in Whistler's cultural arts era.
3. What needs to be done to address those issues?
Whistler needs to become a warm resort community. Whistler's very successful warm bed resort philosophy that allows guests to stay at the base of the mountains needs to be expanded to include a warm house community policy to allow for service employees living in the community. That way Whistler can be the warm resort community that everyone here wants to live in, work in and have the world come to visit. I favour special tax considerations for homeowners with suites and incentives for those who want to add a suite to their homes. If a homeowner wants to sell the suite in their home, perhaps with conditions, they should be allowed to do so. Service people who have invested their lives here should be able to invest here. It would help pay down homeowner debt, in-fill employee accommodation throughout the valley and add numbers to the property tax roll. Whistler has 500 willing people on a waiting list.
Premier Campbell has challenged the Province of British Columbia to double the size of its tourism industry in five years. Whistler enjoys a unique Resort Municipality status that paves the way for special financial tools. Whistler is already seen as a blueprint for resort development. The premier can be approached with a plan for Whistler to set the standard for how the tourism public is served in the province. Service is a marketable commodity. Resorts that don't have two 5,000 foot peaks turn to personal service as a way of competing with Whistler. Whistler can establish a service guild in co-ordination with institutions like Capilano College to train and certify all levels of service personal from front line through management. Throughout the ages guilds have been the way to establish and maintain service standards for merchants and crafts people. A Whistler Service Guild is much preferable to a unionized work force that negotiates service by way of withholding service. A service initiative can be used to persuade the B.C. government that Whistler is committed to leading the maturity and growth of the tourism industry in B.C. and allow us the financial tools we deserve and need.
4. How will Whistler 2020 help us?
Whistler 2020 is a wish list. At least it recognizes a Resident Housing Strategy as its #1 priority. At #12 is a Visitor Experience Strategy for Whistler's tourism based economy. Whistler 2020 tells us that the Service Community is going to be well-trained by a Spirit Day workshop and that commercial property managers, who constantly test what the lease market will bear because that's how they are remunerated, will encourage locally owned and operated businesses to reinvest.
5. Name three things you expect to accomplish in this council's term.
1. A Warm Resort Community to accommodate the Service Community.
2. The Whistler Service Guild to train and accredit service standards.
3. Total immersion of the Whistler arts culture to enliven Whistler, the Global Village.
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