Pique Oct.14, 2011
Rob LeBlanc believes staying balanced is the best way to deal with Whistler's problems.
He doesn't want to see any drastic action taken to solve the community's fiscal problems, opting instead for a measured approach that doesn't radically alter what's been done before.
"There seems to be a lot of negativity and conflict that seems to be brewing in Whistler," said LeBlanc who has lived in Whislter for 21 years.
"I think we've done very well in the last 20 years and my concerns are that there's going to be pressure on us to stray from the formula that we've used over the years.
"I like where we are, I think we have some very good planning policies in our Whistler2020 vision and our OCP, and I would hate for specific interests to kind of rule the day over the next little while."
LeBlanc moved to Whistler from New Brunswick in 1990, looking for fun in the mountains - from the "real east," he said, not from Toronto, Ottawa or anywhere else in Ontario.
Since coming to town he worked at RDC Fine Homes for 19 years and only recently went out to start a business on his own. Beyond that he has also taught snowboarding in Whistler every year since he came here, reaching the highest level of snowboard instructor certification and becoming president of the Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors (CASI).
LeBlanc has also helped start up the American Rammed Earth Builders Association, a non-profit devoted to bringing together contractors who build homes using raw materials. He helped build a rammed earth house at Tapley's Farm.
As a Whistler resident he's most proud of the Whistler Housing Authority (WHA), an organization that has provided housing for full-time employees to the point that housing is no longer much of a problem in Whistler.
"That's a huge accomplishment," LeBlanc said. "For someone who's lived here 21 years, it's been the biggest concern for the average person for all those years. And to have accomplished that, that's a major thing, and if we can accomplish that, we should be able to get through anything."
As for solutions to Whistler's financial problems, he believes that tax increases over the last four years have been "very hard to take" for both residents and businesses. But, he said, Whistler does have expenses it needs to take care of.
"The reality is, we have bills to pay and limited income to do it," he said. "I cannot see taxes going down. I think we need to balance the budget, that's a no-brainer, you don't have to be a CEO to realize that, but I am in favour of the proposed parking plan that's coming into place. I think we need to give it a try, we have danced around that issue for a while."
LeBlanc's solutions also eschew extreme measures like big cuts or suddenly raising taxes.
"Extreme measures would be someone calling for an across the board ten per cent cut in salaries for the whole municipality," he said. "I wouldn't be in favour of all of a sudden increasing taxes by 10 per cent for next year, that seems drastic as well."
Shane Bennett has also thrown his hat into the ring to be Whislter's mayor. He has run in previous elections unsuccessfully for council.
Long-time local Finn Saarinen, who has lived in Whistler for 40 years, is also running for council.
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