And then there were three.
With Roger McCarthy's recent announcement that he would not be throwing his hat into the ring at next month's local election, there are now three councillors seeking re-election along with Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden when Whistler heads to the polls on Nov. 15.
Jack Crompton, Andrée Janyk and John Grills have confirmed their candidacy for a second term on council, while Duane Jackson and Jayson Faulkner, along with McCarthy, will not be seeking re-election.
All of the incumbent councillors applauded the leadership of Wilhelm-Morden over the past three years, as well as the progress made at municipal hall, while acknowledging that work remains to be done.
"I think we need to secure the progress we've made and make sure that its long-term and sustainable," said Crompton, who pointed to the work done this term by the members of the RMOW's Finance and Audit Committee, who held the line on property taxes for the last three years, as one of council's biggest accomplishments.
With municipal terms now extended to four years in B.C., Grills admitted he had some doubts about a second bid, but recognized the need for consistency at the council table.
"We've made some good progress the last three years and I think the community is fairly happy, so it'd be good to have at least half of the existing council stay on for continuity and to keep the momentum going," he said.
For Janyk, who, like her fellow councillors served in local government for the first time after being elected in 2011, the chance to work with the more experienced Wilhelm-Morden once again was too good to pass up.
"I felt with the knowledge I gained that there was an opportunity for me to still be useful to the community," she said. "But also, another reason is because of the mayor, she decided to run again, and I really enjoy working under her leadership and that was a very strong reason."
With a robust events calendar in place and what appears to be another record-breaking summer in the books, McCarthy decided he would take a step away from local government to focus on his resort-development consulting firm.
"There are a lot of things that have gone really well in the last three years and I'm more of a fix-it kind of guy," he said. "But I think if (councillors) Jack (Crompton), John (Grills) and Andrée (Janyk) are back in there with (Mayor) Nancy (Wilhelm-Morden), then you've got a really good framework to continue."
With only a handful of dissenting votes during their tenure, Whistler's current council was far less fractious than their predecessors, something Grills feels the community has recognized.
"One of the messages the community gave us during the last election campaign was, if we got (elected), to work together in a respectful and professional manner, and we did that," he said. "We found a way to work with each other's skills and strengths, as well as working with the CAO and staff to get things done. I think that made the community feel a lot more comfortable."
Looking ahead, a common refrain among the incumbent councillors was the need to improve the municipality's relationship with local First Nations, particularly in light of the June decision in B.C. Supreme Court that repealed provincial approval of Whistler's Official Community Plan (OCP), saying Victoria did not meet its consultative duty with the Squamish and Lil'wat.
"One of (council's priorities should be) creating a stronger relationship with the First Nations group, working on our OCP again and finding a way to getting that approved or amending it so we can get it approved," said Janyk. The RMOW has reverted back to Whistler's earlier 1993 OCP in the wake of the ruling.
"We need to start off by talking (with local First Nations) on a more regular basis," said Grills. "We've got a better understanding of what our community needs and what their community needs."
Housing is another priority on Grills' mind, an issue he's worked closely on as one of council's appointees to the Whistler Housing Authority, and he feels it should be at the top of the RMOW's to-do list moving forward.
"We're a much bigger resort than we were in '06, '07 and '08 when we were last facing a severe shortage of rental housing, coupled with new federal employment laws, so it's a real challenge," he said, referring to Ottawa's recent overhaul of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. "We've got the place busier so now we have to make sure we can service the guest and the community."
With a history in the transportation issue as the founder of Whistler Resort Cabs and current president of RideBooker, Crompton would like to see some improvements made to Whistler's transit system.
"We've made progress but we can do better," he said. "I think a lot of future success will come by increasing ridership if we can — we've lost a little ground there — and working again with local partners to try and reach that goal."
With the nomination period officially open as of Tuesday, Sept. 30, there is currently only one other candidate for council announced: Jen Ford, whose campaign will focus on curbing spending at municipal hall while increasing services and programming for families in the community.
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