Council candidate: Scott Kittleson
Raised on Hornby Island and the Saanich Peninsula, Scott Kittleson came to Whistler directly after graduating from the West Coast College of Massage Therapy nine years ago. A practising massage therapist in Whistler, he was a part-time instructor at the college from 1992 to 1996. His background also includes working as a foreman with crowd control services at Expo 86 and as a hospitality co-ordinator during the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.
Pique: Why do you want to run for council?
Scott: Basically I’ve been really frustrated by the last term of council. I feel they have not exhibited a lot of pro-activity. I feel they have been very reactive to things. The pay parking issue was the one that put me over the top and I finally decided that I could do a better job.
I feel that they’re not pro-local. They’ve lost the context of the community within the resort. It’s about the colourful people living in this town that make this town. It’s the people that live here that created this place. When other people come to visit they see them and say ‘Wow, look at those really cool people. Would I ever like to be like one of them.’
Pique: What’s wrong with the current council?
Scott: I’d like to think that I’d be totally accessible, because that’s what I believe being on council’s all about. It’s my feeling that the current council has gotten a bit of the mentality of ‘we know what’s best for you.’ I don’t think that we’ve been asked about a lot of things that have gone ahead, such as the Olympic bid. I don’t think that the Olympics would necessarily be good for us. However, if the community, by a referendum — and by a referendum I mean the people that live here — decide that’s what they want for their community, I’ll be one of the biggest cheerleaders. But I want to hear it from the community.
I feel that this council didn’t gel very well and it’s causing a problem and allowing certain powerful corporations, who have a very clear mandate where they’re going, to ride roughshod. I feel like the current council is not acting as a unit.
Pique: How would things be different with you on council?
Scott: I’m spending my time talking to people, and when I’m on council that’s my intention, to continue to talk to a wide range of people, to get their feedback. This is their town. They’ve worked hard here. There’s a lot of people who invested a lot of time and effort and plan on raising families here. And I see that unless things are looked after soon, that may not be a reality for a lot of people. They’re going to get priced right out of the market here.
Pique: That’s one of the major issues facing the next council?
Scott: Certainly that’s a big issue. In the time I’ve spent talking to people I’ve been almost overwhelmed by the number of issues that potentially face the next council. I think one of the things I’m bringing to the next council is I’m going to be looking for the vision. Looking down the road and making a determination for who we’re going to be in the future, and allowing that to guide us by the things we need to take steps with right now.
I feel the current vision document doesn’t incorporate enough of what people had to say.
I’m also a little concerned about the short-sightedness as to what we become once we’ve finished being a development-oriented community and become a sustainable community. I think there’s a lot of people in this town really looking forward to Whistler not being the land of the dump truck anymore.
As far as pay parking is concerned, I know what the original proposal was, and what council decided to turn it into was completely different. They just saw it as another way to make cash.
Pique: How do you balance community, resort and personal interests?
Scott: I think it has a lot to do with listening. Again I go back to that sense of ‘we know what’s better for you.’ To me that’s never been what a civic council’s about. On a civic level you should be able to access the people who are in there.
We’ve even seen neighbour pitted against neighbour, on the tourist accommodation issue, which I don’t think was handled very well. My belief is that you shouldn’t tell anyone what they can or can’t do with their property.
One other issue that’s unfortunate, along the lines of neighbourhoods: I’ve talked to so many people who are talking about having to sell their house in Emerald, or having to compromise the lifestyle that they’ve achieved, based on having to shell out $20,000, or whatever the latest figure is, for the sewer, and that’s wrong.
Pique: Why should people vote for you?
Scott: I don’t know as much about the issues as many people do, which means I’m going to ask more questions. And it’s time to start asking some hard questions — to start asking some questions that have already been answered, because it’s time to hear the answers again, if it helps take us forward to an economy based on sustainability. And it’s time to do it in a public forum. I won’t find it acceptable to do all these closed door meetings.
I don’t have any alternative reason for doing this other than I feel I can contribute to my community. I can help facilitate whatever group dynamics are involved to make this go forward. I also think I have a good ability to get people brainstorming, and to help people come up with viable options for difficult problems.
I have good communication skills and I will listen to what people have to say. In fact, every time there’s an issue you can bet I’m going to go out to various people and say ‘What do you think?’
And as far as the group dynamics within council, I believe that I can bring an ability to smooth things together. I feel like we need a council of strong-minded, independent individuals, and then we need to figure out how to work together. My profession, and also having taught this, is about empathetic listening. It’s about not having made up my mind before listening to the person.