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This year council set the groundwork for a big resolution looming on the horizon, the university lands decision. In June it endorsed the Learning and Education Planning Process, set up to identify and evaluate a full range of economic development opportunities within the field of learning and education. The process began in the fall and the task force will be operating between October 2012 and the end of March 2013.
The Economic Partnership Initiative (EPI) produced nothing tangible in 2012. But its very creation in September could pave the way for big news in 2013.
At the request of municipal administrator Mike Furey, the EPI committee gathered leaders from across the resort — Whistler Blackcomb, Tourism Whistler, the hotel association and the Chamber of Commerce.
The idea is to reign in resources, study the resort's economic viability and produce a game plan moving forward.
In December the municipality hired consultants to produce a study on the community's economic activity and an economic sector analysis. The final draft will be delivered within the first 100 days of 2013. It will form the basis for future decisions.
The EPI is a testament to just how closely all the organizations in Whistler are linked. Big changes in one could have ramifications in others.
In mid-October Whistler Blackcomb was named the top resort as voted by SKI Magazine's readers. Huge accolades from skiers across North America and good news for the resort indeed.
Less than two months later news broke that a private equity fund specializing in travel and leisure businesses had agreed to buy Intrawest's 24 per cent stake in Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc, the company that owns a majority stake in the mountains. The news was again heralded as a huge vote of confidence in the resort.
"Absolutely it is," said Councillor Roger McCarthy.
In July council was faced with an interesting dilemma when the chairman of the board of Tourism Whistler approached the mayor over concerns that Councillor Jayson Faulkner, the council rep, was in conflict on that board.
Faulkner, in his day job, is general manager and partner of the Sea to Sky Gondola project in Squamish, arguably a direct competitor of the WB's Peak 2 Peak Gondola.
With the pressure from the TW board, Faulkner stepped down from his appointment and Councillor McCarthy was picked in his place.
The story serves to illustrate the intricate connection between the resort partners.
Whistler Sport Legacies (WSL)
July also saw the release of the first public annual report from Whistler Sport Legacies, which operates the multi-million dollar Olympic legacies.
The report revealed that the Whistler Sliding Centre recouped about $578,000 of its $2.7 million in operating costs, while Whistler Olympic Park took in just over $1 million with operating costs of $2.1 million.
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