We'll admit it - there was a moment of uncertainty, thankfully short-lived, in the newsroom at the conclusion of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. After covering the Games week in and week out for more than eight years, from the bid to the closing ceremonies, from the first tentative public meetings to the final published plans, poring over every dollar and detail, the question on everyone's minds was "now what?"
There might have been a moment of post-Games depression, like that moment at the end of Christmas Day when you realize it's going to be a whole year before your next opportunity to open presents and gorge yourself on shortbread, but then life in Whistler was pretty good before the Games came along.
Life as we know it returned to normal, or what passes for normal in one of the world's most renowned mountain towns. We were told that some three-and-a-half billion people tuned into the Games, half the people on the planet, and that hundreds of millions of people who didn't know about Whistler before last February most certainly know us now. And they like us. They really, really like us.
No question the town has changed a lot as a result of the Games. More locals than ever own homes through conversion of the athletes' village into the Cheakamus Crossing employee housing neighbourhood. We have Olympic legacies like the High Performance Centre, Whistler Olympic Park and the Whistler Sliding Centre, that are learning to stand on their own without VANOC, Olympic sponsors and funding from provincial and federal governments. It isn't going to be easy, but it's exciting.
And, as in the past, Whistler has issues to resolve. The controversy over the asphalt plant, for one. Budgetary and property tax pressures as the resort reaches build-out. A pay parking implosion. Increased transit costs. Less provincial money for our library. A community forest that must be logged in order to protect it from one day being logged more aggressively. A school that must balance a budget. A persistent shortage of daycare spaces. A never-before-seen abundance of rental properties and shortage of high-paying and full-time jobs. Longer lines at the Food Bank.
On a larger scale, there's a global recession to deal with and high unemployment on both sides of the border. There's an economic crisis in Europe. Higher gasoline prices around the world. Higher travel costs. A higher Loonie that discourages travel to Canada. Passport and visa regulations that make it harder and more expensive for Americans, Czechs, Mexicans and others to travel here. Intrusive airport body scanners that can tell if you're circumcised or not.
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