Council reviews lessons from May long weekend 

More police presence needed, improved communications with media

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Though the inaugural May long weekend with GO Fest was considered a success, Whistler still has its work cut out for it if it wants to change the culture of that weekend.

At Tuesday's council meeting, Norm McPhail, general manager of corporate and community services, reviewed the lessons learned with council after a recent debriefing with the May long weekend task force.

Among the lessons:

• The need to maintain a highly visible police presence, with help from bylaw and fire, with a suggestion that there are increased patrols at the base of Blackcomb and in some neighbourhoods;

• Targeting messaging in specific schools and communities next year following the analysis of the violation tickets for age demographics and resident address;

• Engaging in more advanced advertising of GO Fest activities, and doing earlier engagement of local business;

• Consider offering incentive packages of resort offerings to include accommodation, tickets to events;

• Improving communications with media on critical-event reporting.

"Generally I think it takes three years to get real traction with an event," said Councillor Roger McCarthy. "I think we'll have even more traction next year."

Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden added that this was the first time in 20 years she's stayed in Whistler for the May long weekend.

"There was a really good feel to it," she said.

"We knew all along — it will take more than one year to change that weekend around."

McPhail also said that the partners must continue to work with the community on the importance of reporting crime, and becoming involved in the local events aimed at enhancing the resort experience.

"We need the community to call... and we need to follow up on that," he said.

Council also considered a letter from 14-year-old Whistler resident Bowen Cunningham, who suggested that the CBC "PlayOn!" street hockey tournament would be a perfect fit for that weekend. "The main parking lots would be a great venue for the tournament as they are right next to the village for people to get lunch and be close to their hotel rooms," wrote Cunningham.

Councillor John Grills called Cunningham, but he wasn't home — it's not often council gets letters from teenagers.

"I think it's really a perfect format for the GO Fest weekend," said Grills.

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