Council candidate: Greg Lee
Greg Lee may be the only candidate running for council who’s already in the Whistler Museum. A legend in his own time, Greg’s been tied to Whistler since 1970 when he helped run summer ski camps for Toni Sailor. He’s skied professionally all over the world and sells real estate here when he’s not making his 13 month old twin boys laugh.
Pique: Why do you want to be on council?
Greg: I had no intention of running this election. I’d had my fill last election, but when it didn’t look like many people were interested, I felt I wanted to give people a choice. There were some things going on I disagree with, the accessibility of council for one. I took Ken Melamed to task for chastising the constituents of Whistler for being upset with 19 Mile Creek. I’m a firm believer that council must represent the will of the people, not have their own agenda. So, that’s why I’m running.
Pique: What’s wrong with this council?
Greg: Well, they’ve done some good things, but the trouble with the good things they’ve done is the public perception they don’t let people in on what they’re doing.
I think the Emerald Forest was a good deal, but everyone was a little bent out of shape because it was perceived as a backroom deal. Had they been more open, I think there would have been no outcry. People would have learned to live with the deal and realize it was a good deal and the people on the Benchlands would have licked their wounds and gotten on with the game. But the trouble is, even good deals this council’s done have been done in the backroom.
When it comes to public hearings, I’m quite amazed all the votes are so strongly one-sided, the deal’s all done and they listen to the people of Whistler as almost a token gesture, but the matter seems a fait accompli. I don’t think that’s right. The bottom line is, I think elected representatives are there to do the bidding of the people of Whistler. There will always be dissension among the people of Whistler but the bottom line is the greater good and I think people of Whistler are good people and as long as every subdivision gives a little bit, that’s not a problem. But the trouble happens when some subdivisions give nothing and others are perceived to give everything.
Pique: What are the major issues facing the next council?
Greg: The parking issue will haunt us until we get a good bus system. Throughout my career, I saw most every ski area in the world, and the most prestigious ski areas in the world don’t allow cars from the day traffic. They park their cars at an entry point and they’ve got a really good transit system to the ski area and back out. There’s no backlog. You try and get out of this village on Saturday or Sunday afternoon and what you see, even in the summer season now, is ludicrous.
So we have pay parking on the agenda now and I think if you just had a resident parking pass for $20, you raise a ton of money and the residents get to park in the areas. Our taxes are high. You’ve got to give something back to the people who live here. I don’t think that’s a bad thing to do. When the transit system becomes full grown, the day skier traffic will park their cars in Function Junction and the only people driving around the village will be property owners and people who live here and work here. When we do that, the infrastructure can handle that, but right now we can’t handle what we have. My future of Whistler is day skier traffic park their cars in Function Junction and the only cars here are people that live here. Then our headaches go away.
Pique: How will council be different with you on it?
Greg: My skills are more mediative. Council right now is fairly polarized. I like Hugh O’Reilly but I think our mayor needs to be more someone who can bring people together. I think all future councils will be fairly polarized, as we get more diversified. My skills are, one, I’m a people person, two, I can get things done. I’m prepared to give a little if someone’s prepared to give a little. But sometimes, people aren’t prepared to give anything and I’m pretty good at getting people to give ground.
Pique: How would you strike the balance between a local interest and a larger community interest?
Greg: If you’re talking about affordable housing, the thing is, our affordable housing here is laughable. I don’t know what’s affordable about two or three hundred thousand dollars for young people, quite seriously. Other ski areas similar to Whistler do something like this: they decide that someone would bring value to the community but that person can’t afford the down payment on a house for their young family. The housing authority in these communities acts as a bank; they make the down payment and the person going into the housing pays a little more than the mortgage to cover the money cost. After so many years, or when they go away, its paid back.
The thing is, we lose so many good people because they can’t make the next step. The way it stands now, the only people who can get employee housing are employees whose father or parents co-sign the loan. The Barnfield properties were a joke. There are better ways to do employee housing.
Pique: Why should people vote for you?
Greg: First of all, people should just go out and vote. I think I can do a good job. I’ve been around Whistler a long time, I’ve seen it grow, I’ve been a part of that growth and I’m going to be here until I’m long gone. I’m raising my family here. I’m a fairly easy going person who really likes to be around people. I have a university degree. I can walk in all circles. I’d like to keep Whistler growing and I’d like to be part of the future.