community forum 

As a developing community, Whistler has its share of problems. A healthy community forum designed to dissect, discuss and design solutions for the holes in Whistler's services is on the way. According to Georgann Cope-Watson, Whistler co-ordinator for Healthy Community Initiatives, the Community Forum will take place March 9 at the Tantalus Lodge. Participants will choose one of five workshops to take part in. "The purpose of the forum is for people who live in Whistler to get together and look at the services that are out there, identify gaps in the system and deal with overlaps," Cope-Watson says. She has been poring over information, reports and studies on community services and health care in Whistler. What she has ended up with is a stack of information and five identifiable issues that are important to the future health of Whistler as a community. The five issues will be the basis of the five workshops taking place at the forum. Each workshop will be facilitated by a member of the Healthy Communities Steering Committee. The workshops are: the economics of living in Whistler, dealing with affordable housing, cost of living, childcare and space; the environment as it pertains to health, garbage, bears, cleanliness; community, transient population, community groups, fund raising; recreation, availability, programs, affordability; social, drugs and alcohol, youth issues, vandalism. Cope-Watson says now that the gaps and overlaps in Whistler's community services have been identified, it's time to talk. "The goal is to get community groups together and open the channels of communication," she says. Action plans dealing with the discussions of the evening will be prepared and short-term, mid-term and long-term priorities will be identified. She says Whistler's community services are relatively well established, all the pieces of the puzzle are there, they just haven't been put together. "We are moving toward a goal of a great deal of inter-agency collaboration, it's all coming together," she says. Whistler enjoys an interesting situation when it comes time for consensus building and the framing of community decisions. She says three groups make up the people who are affected by decisions made in Whistler — permanent residents, weekend homeowners and visitors. "We want to gear this process to people who live and work in Whistler," she says.


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