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Ken Melamed, candidate for mayor.

A prosperous future where people’s needs are met

Name: Ken Melamed

Age: 51


Occupation: Artisan stonemasonry contractor/Pro ski patrol

Last book read: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.

What music are you listening to? World beat, jazz, salsa, blues.

Favourite recreational pursuits: Mountain biking, skiing, hockey, ping-pong.

1. Why are you running for mayor?

The past nine years I have been actively and passionately shaping Whistler’s future with overwhelming support from the community. I believe my leadership will be critical to ensuring that the energy invested in the community’s new plan, Whistler 2020, is leveraged to guide Whistler to a prosperous future in a community where people’s needs are met.

2. What are the biggest issues facing Whistler?

The biggest issue right now is getting affordable housing built and completing Rainbow. There’s a feeling of desperation amongst people who have been here for some time – 500 people on the waitlist tells you that a lot of people are placing their future hopes on the completion of more employee housing – Rainbow is that hope. And the challenge is to deliver it so that it fulfills those expectations.

There’s (also) a feeling of desperation in the business community.

We need a business plan to address the current economic downturn and chart a roadmap as we transition from a boom construction time to a more fixed growth model.

The Olympics. They’re coming. Our commitment is to host the best winter games ever and Canada and B.C. are looking to us to showcase the province and the country and make Canadians proud. Our interest is to be able to leverage the Olympics and promote Whistler to the world and to leave the town with meaningful legacies. The challenge again is to do that within current budgets and be able to complete on the rest of the things that we do.

We can’t lose sight of the core functions of the municipality which have to be maintained, and then we have to superimpose this Olympic scene on top of that.

3. What needs to be done to address those issues?

What needs to be done is to prove it. Construction should start at Rainbow in the spring if possible. In the short term that gives people hope and delivers much-needed employee housing.

We need a business plan to address the economic downturn. We need to really wrap our minds around what’s the most effective way to provide some stability. I think re-marketing is one of the obvious first choices. We need to convince people that Whistler is good value and a good choice for their vacation.

There are so many strategies that we need to prepare to be ready for the Olympic Games, from the bricks and mortar side of providing the athletes village and the sledge hockey arena to the cultural Olympics. We’ve talked about needing a strategy for businesses to be prepared, not just to capitalize on the Games but to be prepared for a different business climate. It’s not going to be business as usual and they need to know how to (prepare for that). There is a ton of work to do. The municipality will work in partnership with VANOC. There’s a tremendous amount of co-ordination, communication and integration of effort required in the coming years.

4. How will Whistler 2020 help us?

It grounds us to our core values and priorities, provides a business model and a strategic guide for the future. From it we should develop a business plan for the resort to shape our strategic planning for success. The monitoring component of the plan ensures that we can apply an adaptive management approach and measure our success. Whistler 2020 also sets a benchmark and a commitment to continued community engagement and communication. I believe deeply in the partnerships approach outlined in this model, and plan to work co-operatively with all resort stakeholders for our successful future.

5. Name three things you expect to accomplish in this council’s term.

The first thing is to ensure the delivery of a complete community at Rainbow. The second is to return the economy to good health and thirdly, to lay the foundations for Whistler to achieve its Olympic expectations, and showcase Whistler to the world.