Milestone event for Whistler 2020 

Community members offer praise, concern for actions in vision document

It’s a milestone event for the community, Mike Vance said Saturday as he looked around the room.

The municipality’s general manager of community initiatives was looking at the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan, now known as Whistler 2020, taped to the walls of the Westin Resort & Spa.

This plan, which is three years in the making, takes a whole range of topics crucial to Whistler’s future and outlines exactly how that future will unfold, whether that’s Whistler’s economic future, its recreation and leisure future or its energy future. There are 16 strategies which make up the document.

And to get here it took the input of more than 130 community members who joined the 16 task forces.

"The community is really dictating what our organization and what the community’s priorities are," said Vance.

Community members offered praise and concern for what they saw at the two-day open house. They came to read up on the future and comment about the work done to date.

Mick Gannon was impressed by all the thought and work that has culminated in 16 strategies.

"It looks pretty positive really," said Gannon, as he filled out a comment form on one of the strategies. "I hope it’s actually achievable."

Without a doubt, Whistler 2020 is a lofty document. It outlines exactly what Whistler wants to achieve in the next 15 years in order to make the resort community both successful and sustainable. More importantly, it sets out all the steps to get there and the partners needed to make that happen.

The power of the document, said Bob Lorriman, is that it is the "roadmap" for council. Whistler 2020 will guide all future decisions.

And yet, longtime community member Craig Mackenzie had a few concerns, particularly as they relate to the Whistler 2020 economic strategy.

There is nothing in the actions for 2005 and 2006, which include things such as exploring the potential for the Pemberton International Airport and exploring the establishment of a Whistler energy utility, which address the current economic reality, which to put it mildly, has seen better days. Room nights are down, hotel tax revenue is down, and business all around is down from previous years.

And yet, said Mackenzie, the Whistler 2020 economic strategy does not address this.

"I don’t get any sense of urgency from it," he said.

Of course, he added, by the time Whistler adjusts to the "economic crisis" the resort could be out of it.

Mackenzie also commented on the fact that there are hundreds of actions coming out of the Whistler 2020 taskforces without any financial implications associated with the actions.

"I look at all these actions and none of them are costed," said Mackenzie.

The actions in Whistler 2020 aren’t solely coming from the municipality. Fourteen community partners, such at Whistler-Blackcomb and Tourism Whistler, have signed on to move the plan forward.

Ultimately Vance said he would like to see Whistler move to a community-wide budgeting process.

In the meantime municipal staff will gather the information collected at the two-day open house and consider it in the document. The revised Whistler 2020 strategies are expected to come before council for their approval on Aug. 2.

Staff will continue working on a monitoring system to gauge the progress of the document. They will also work on a food strategy in the fall, which will examine Whistler’s food supply, linking with Pemberton growers and greenhouse projects in Whistler among other things.

Every year the task forces will reconvene to review the Whistler 2020 actions and go through a prioritization process, as they continue to build new partners and adopt new actions into the document.

"We’re really open to feedback," said municipal staff member Esther Speck. "That’s how we improve."

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