Whistler council against four-year terms 

Letter going to BC Liberal government and NDP opposition

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Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden isn't optimistic that Whistler council will be able to prevent new election law changes from moving ahead.

But she's willing to give it a shot.

On Tuesday, council voted to send a letter to the Liberal government and the NDP opposition advising that Whistler is not in favour of proposed legislation that will extend council's term from three to four years.

"Quite frankly I don't know that we can do a lot," admitted the mayor. "I think we may be hooped, but let's give it a shot anyway."

Council members outlined a variety of reasons why they are against a term extension, which, if passed, would begin after November's election.

The terms also extend to school trustees and regional district representatives.

Councillor Jayson Faulkner said he thinks the move is driven by some of the major metropolitan areas where career politicians would prefer the stability of a longer term.

"I think it's so profoundly different for small communities where people are doing it on the corner of their desk, or half their desk," he said.

Among the mayor's concerns, which include being an added barrier for young people to get involved in politics, Wilhelm-Morden said there could be issues with a divisive council.

"You could have a wacky mayor... who could be an embarrassment to the town for four years," she said.

Councillor John Grills asked if the mayors of B.C. would be discussing the issue at the next B.C. Mayors' Caucus meeting.

"The challenge now is how to get this horse back into the barn," he added.

That mayors' meeting will not take place until the end of April and by then it may be too late, said Wilhelm-Morden.

Councillor Andrée Janyk asked if Whistler would send the letter of opposition to mayors across the province.

Wilhelm-Morden said she had spoken to municipal CAO Mike Furey about that and had decided against it.

"There are some other things at play that we need to take into account," she said.

When asked after the meeting what those things are the mayor said: "I don't want to talk about that."

She did, however, share a family joke that if she runs for mayor again, she'll be 64 years old when her second term is up, leaving her with the perfect campaign song for a potential third term: "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64."

DES concerns passed to WDC

Council is staying out of the ongoing concerns from Cheakamus Crossing residents about their District Energy System.

A recent letter to council from residents Karen Thomson and Alisdair Macaulay, who live in the Rise, details three years of ongoing problems with their heating system.

On Tuesday, council received that letter and referred it to the Whistler 2020 Development Corporation, the municipally owned subsidiary charged with building the $161 million athletes' village and now overseeing the legacy neighbourhood. That neighbourhood includes a District Energy System that captures waste heat from the sewage treatment plant.

"We don't want to get involved in an issue that's not ours," said the mayor.

Thomson and Macaulay are looking for compensation for the costs they have paid to date to fix their system at $5,000 and for future costs, at $1,500 so far.

They write: "This heating system is so complex that is it difficult to find a company that has the expertise necessary to service and repair the units in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Moreover, the systems have been installed in such a way that the owner is not able to opt out, and turn to an alternate source of hearting. Failure of our heating system has caused us financial hardship and put a strain on our personal life. It is unacceptable to go weeks without heat and hot water in the middle of a Whistler winter."

The mayor added: "If there's any action to be taken it would be WDC."

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