Council candidate: Nick Davies
Nick Davies began playing and partying in Whistler in the early 1970s. Between bouts of university, law school, and roughnecking in the oil fields of Alaska, he managed to maintain enough of a connection to move here full time and set up a law practice in 1991, and still play a mean guitar. Having honed his practice into a well-run machine, he’s ready to take on running for council.
Pique: Why are you running for council?
Nick: My dad was always involved in public service. He was VP of the International Chemical Workers Union. At a time when probably half of my practice was labour law, management side, I asked him how he reconciled that with the fact he was a labour leader? He said, "It doesn’t matter what side of the issue you’re on, what’s important is that there are good people on both sides." So I come from that sort of family.
I decided to run because it’s the kind of thing I’m really interested in. This town is fascinating. Once you get to know it, it’s fascinating. The complexity of some of the issues we have to deal with is the kind of thing I’m interested in.
Pique: How would council’s decisions have been different with you on board?
Nick: The big one would have been nightly rentals, tourist accommodation (TA). That whole scenario is unfortunate. My view is they took that issue in the wrong direction in the first place. I’m opposed dealing with the issue by way of spot zoning. I’m more inclined to think that licensing is the proper way to go. Having said that, the idea of encouraging people to apply for rezoning and then just saying, oops, we’ve decided we’re just going to put a moratorium on the whole thing halfway through the process, is wrong. I think they really dropped the ball on that issue.
My view is nightly rentals, and that sort of tourist accommodation, are not a bad thing. The problem is not tourist accommodation, the problem is noise and the problem is parking and the problem is busses in the neighbourhoods, and I think we can control all those problems without saying to people, you can’t have a couple of guests in for the night.
Pique: When it comes to contentious issues like this, where to you strike the balance between a local interest and the larger community interest?
Nick: I think the overriding test has to be, what is right for our community. Frankly, I think this ought to be a fundamental operating principle for politicians — you have to do what’s right and you have to be prepared to not get re-elected. Because sometimes doing what’s right means doing what’s unpopular. If it means concluding, after proper considerations, putting employee housing in a particular neighbourhood is the right thing to do, from a community perspective, and then the people in that neighbourhood organize and gang up and get you thrown out next time around, then that’s the way it is.
The problem with this town is that it’s growing and it’s changing. People get their nest built and they get themselves set up and you really can’t blame them. It they’ve got a nice quiet little garden in a neighbourhood and somebody says to them, we’re going to whack a road through here and there’s going to be 500 houses and you’re going to have a whole bunch of traffic going by your yard, you really can’t blame them for wanting to try and stop that.
Pique: What are the important issues the next council has to deal with?
Nick: We’ve already talked about the TA issue.
The Olympics are going to be an issue. A lot of people are upset that the community has not been adequately consulted about whether we should have the Olympics or not. I’m one of them. If you believe the community should be consulted, then you have to accept that whoever did the consulting, didn’t do a very good job.
Having said that, I fundamentally believe in the Olympic ideal. I believe Olympics are a good thing. But the key question is: Do we want them? A lot of people seem to be amenable to the idea and a lot don’t. More and more people are talking about having a referendum. I haven’t made my mind up on that one. I’m fundamentally opposed to referendums. That’s why you elect representatives. Maybe the Olympics are a significant enough decision that we ought to have a better consultative process. I’m not sure what that is at this point but I think we need to do a better job of consulting on that issue.
If we go forward with the Olympics, I think we need some people on council who are tough negotiators. We need some people who are tough negotiators and who are prepared to get up and walk away from the table if they think this town is getting screwed. One of the things I can bring to the table as a councillor is I’m a tough negotiator.
Pique: Why should people vote for you?
Nick: I think I have a set of skills I can bring to the job because I’m a lawyer. I’m not saying lawyers are the only ones that have these skills, but I’m used to considering policy issues and weighing both sides of an argument. I’m used to inhaling large amounts of information and distilling it down to its essence.
I’m prepared to try and do what I think is the right thing even if it’s sometimes not the most popular thing. As I said, I’m not a career politician so if people don’t agree with what I do, they don’t have to vote for me next time around.
To some extent, I suppose you could say I’ve paid my dues — and I’m not saying you have to do community work for 10 years before you think about running for council — but because of the things I do in town, being heavily involved with the Chamber of Commerce, W5, the perspective I get being a member of Ski Patrol on Whistler, I think I can bring a broad perspective to the job.