Council candidate: Stephanie Sloan
World freestyle skiing champion Stephanie Sloan has lived in Whistler 17 years. She is president of Dave Murray Enterprises which runs the Dave Murray summer ski and snowboard camps on Blackcomb Glacier and the women’s only ski programs on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.
Sloan is former president of the Whistler Nordics Ski Club and is active on Whistler’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission. She is currently council representative on the Planning Commission, Public Art Committee, the Cultural Plan Steering Committee and director of the Whistler Arts Council.
A singe mom, Sloan’s daughter Julia is 11.
Pique: Why do you want to be on council again?
Stephanie: We have accomplished so much in these three short years and I feel the work has only just begun. We have laid the groundwork for a lot of things that are to come — things like the long-term financial plan, the business plan and the transportation study. The environmental strategy is another one and I want to follow through on a lot of those things. The Olympics is another thing where policy is going to have to be set. We are definitely not going to sell our soul for the Olympics. I think it’s a real opportunity to solve some of our problems, like transportation. Maybe there will be a big transportation legacy left from the Olympics, like light rapid transit from Vancouver. If there is an opportunity like that I think we have really got to jump on it. The nordic centre that could be built in the Callaghan Valley would be great up there.
Pique: How would council have been different if you were not on board?
Stephanie: I think we have a really well rounded council. We have the environment represented, we’ve got a lawyer, we’ve got the financial side represented and I feel I represent the community. I am community based. I have been here a long time. I have a child here. I love it and I just want to make sure it is going to remain a good resort community for the future — for my daughter, for example. I feel I represent the community. I listen to people who have been here a long time like I have. I feel I am their voice.
Pique: What are the most important issues council will have to deal with in the next three years?
Stephanie: We need to negotiate with the provincial government to find new revenue sharing options so we can reduce the dependency on our property taxes for the future. We contribute so much to the provincial government in taxes — $350 million annually. I know the province and a lot of the rest of B.C. looks at us as a place that doesn’t need help. But, for us as a community to support all the infrastructure in this tourism-based industry with all these guests that come in, we are going to need some help in the future to keep it as it is. We also need to provide for some growth too in maybe arts and culture or for a business school or who knows what... maybe something like the Banff School of Fine Arts. We need to diversify a little bit. We can’t ding the taxpayers to pay for all of these things. I am hoping, with our long term financial plan and business plan, now we have a leg to stand on to go the province and say, look, this is what it looks like for our future. We don’t have the resources to cover our long term needs and we need some new tools.
As for some community initiatives, I think we need to tighten up on our drug enforcement here. My daughter is in the DARE program. She is in Grade 6 and Const. Warren Tomalty did a presentation to the parents. He made it painfully clear we have got a drug problem here and that if we are not on top of it our kids are going to get involved. The skateboard park is sort of a monster that we have created, I think. There is a lot of drug dealing going on there. Const. Tomalty says he can go in there 15 times and make 14 busts. They are dealing mostly in marijuana and some cocaine. One simple suggestion to help with the skateboard park would be to turn out the lights at 10 p.m. instead of 2 a.m.
I think the sewer project at Emerald Estates is another thing. If we don’t get that provincial grant I think it is too expensive. We need to make it more affordable for those residents.
The nightly rental thing also needs resolution. I voted against the current policy to not allow any nightly rentals whatsoever. I know some people who wanted to run villas or bed and breakfasts. For example, a single mom wanted to have a villa operation where she stayed in a suite and rented out her house part of the year. To see her not able to do that, I didn’t think that was right. It is so expensive here, I think Whistler homeowners should have the opportunity to rent their homes whether it’s a villa or a B&B or if it’s just when they go away at Christmas. I think there has to be a temporary permit system. I feel uncomfortable with all this litigation we are in now. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t want to see commercial operations take over our neighbourhoods. I think with a temporary permit it is easier to control problems. I would like to see a steering committee set up to help bring some solutions forward.
Pique: Why should someone vote for you?
Because I listen. I represent the community. As a competitor, a professional skier, I have been to many different resorts in the world and I know why Whistler is number one and I want to keep it number one. I can also represent the resort side. I realize all the benefits that are here because of the resort side as well. Whistler-Blackcomb has put over $15 million into our playground since the purchase of Whistler Mountain. To me that’s wonderful. Yes, we do get more people coming because of it, but we also benefit. I think I see both sides of the coin pretty clearly.