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Business owner Sarah Rush eyes Whistler council seat

Dietician, second homeowner campaigning on a 'livable, sustainable Whistler for all'
Sarah Rush(1)
Business owner and Whistler second homeowner Sarah Rush.

Small business owner Sarah Rush isn’t your typical Whistler council candidate. 

Unlike most people seeking a seat at the table, the 58-year-old dietician's primary residence isn’t in Whistler, but the Lower Mainland. Rush has owned a second home in Whistler since 2016. 

But in a resort municipality like Whistler, having representation from a second homeowner is a needed point of view on council, Rush believes.

“The point about being a second homeowner is that the number of second homes and tourist accommodation is significant in Whistler," she said. "It surprised me when I realized there has never been [second homeowner] representation on council."

Rush’s campaign is focused on support for small businesses, creating a sense of community, mitigating climate change and tackling the municipality's housing crisis. 

“For me, the top priority ... I'm calling it a livable, sustainable Whistler for all, because I want to ensure that Whistler remains a place to call home as well as a thriving tourist resort,” she said.

“I've been hearing from a lot of locals that Whistler is losing a sense of community, and losing that middle ground, and that's a concern because it needs a community to supply the permanent jobs.

“Whistler can't survive on just seasonal, temporary workers, and I worry that Whistler is just turning into a tourist town, without enough long-term Whistlerites arriving and staying around.” 

Rush wants the province to do more to tackle Whistler's housing crisis, and believes the municipality needs to focus on densifying housing closer to the Village centre. 

“Whistler is the most expensive town to buy property in B.C., and I wonder if the province can't step in a little bit more and help out, because it must be getting a considerable amount of property tax transfer dollars," she said. 

"I think that Whistler needs to hold its hand up and say we need some more help from the province here."

According to Rush, the housing crunch has resulted in businesses closing their doors due to a lack of staff, and resulted in more people choosing to live in neighbouring towns and commute to Whistler. 

“What I'm hearing is some of the businesses don't have enough staff. So in the shoulder season, they have to shut, then the locals don't have anywhere to go ... that's a downward spiral, and we need to reverse that," she said.

“If we don't have enough housing, we won't have the support industry and the support businesses. It's not all about shops and restaurants, it's about the electricians, the plumbers, the paving people, and if they can't find housing, and we can't support those businesses to thrive in Whistler, then they have to go to Pemberton or Squamish." 

Rush believes that the solution to the housing crisis requires outside-the-box solutions and a broad approach. 

“Let's look at every possible solution here. How do we get money to build it? How do we buy the land?" she said. "I think we need a deeper dive into solutions and widen the net of options.”

You can learn more about Rush’s campaign at www.sarahrush.ca

Rush joins 15 other candidates in the race for Whistler's six council seats. 

Whistlerites head to the polls on Oct. 15.