Is Whistler’s mayor and council out of touch when it comes to the (ahem) needs of guests and residents?
More specifically, why are there still no cannabis retail stores in Whistler, more than two years after federal legalization?
It’s a question oft repeated in online forums, and one posed by local resident Tyler Follett in a Jan. 24 letter to council.
“I am curious why you are so vehemently opposed to allowing a legal cannabis dispensary to open up in Whistler. Meanwhile, it seems like any time a bar would like to open on the stroll, the red carpet is rolled out for them. Why the drastic difference?” he wrote, in part.
“With all due respect, it really seems like this is a council that is out of touch with the residents.”
While Whistler passed a zoning amendment bylaw in early 2018 prohibiting the retail sale of cannabis, allowing local officials to control where and when pot shops are introduced to the resort, the lack of action on the file is not due to council being out of touch, according to Mayor Jack Crompton.
“COVID-19 is the lens through which we see everything, and certainly housing, climate and community balance, affordability, remain our highest priorities,” he said.
“Non-medical cannabis retail and licencing is in the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s current work plan, and is identified for consideration in 2021. But a lot depends on resources available.”
Is it possible that a cannabis retail store opens in Whistler before the end of the year?
“I don’t want to get out ahead of council on what will ultimately be decided,” Crompton said.
“My hope is that we’ll see consideration of our cannabis policy in 2021.”
A YEAR ON ZOOM (AND COUNTING)
What’s that old saying about not knowing what you’ve got until it’s gone?
Let’s just say this Pique reporter never thought he’d miss the cold mundanities of in-person council meetings at the Maury Young Arts Centre—until he had to spend a year covering council over Zoom. (Has it really been a year? How is that possible?)
And yet, the last time Whistler’s mayor and council met in person was Feb. 18, 2020.
At its Feb. 2, 2021 meeting (held over Zoom), council heard a short update from general manager of corporate and community services Ted Battiston regarding a potential return to the Maury Young Arts Centre.
“The formal guidance to municipalities [from the provincial ministry of municipal affairs] is that all meeting participants ... are strongly encouraged to attend electronically,” Battiston said. “So that’s the landscape of where we are right now.”
After Battiston’s presentation, council passed a resolution directing staff to bring forward another update when public health orders around gatherings and guidance from the ministry allow for in-person meetings.
Council’s next meeting is Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 5:30 p.m.
IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO THINK FIRESMART
A new $10-million provincial FireSmart Economic Recovery Fund is being welcomed in Whistler.
Administered by the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), the fund will pay for projects that encourage economic development, reduce wildfire risks, allow people to develop new job skills and help protect forests and communities from harm.
“Programs like this have been used extensively by Whistler in the past,” Crompton said. “Our hope is to access this program again.”
The RMOW has three fuel-thinning projects on tap for 2021: at Cheakamus Lake Road (about 20 hectares left to thin), on Nesters Hill (14.8 ha.) and at Taluswood (11 ha.).
“It’s critically important that we protect ourselves from fires,” Crompton said.
“I would ask every person in this community to consider their property and whether it is going to be safe in the event of a fire. If you’re uncertain, please reach out for help to determine whether or not your property is FireSmart.”
Head to whistler.ca/firesmart for more.