Two major factors went into electrical engineer Curtis Lapadat’s decision to run for a seat at Whistler’s council table this fall. Diagnosed with prostate cancer a year and a half ago, the news “opened me up to the question: ‘What have I done and how can I make a big difference?’” recounts the 55-year-old.
The other? When the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), last November, proposed a 6.72-per-cent property tax increase for 2022.
“I got a little bit scared by that, thinking that there wasn’t a lot of cost containment going on. And so, given my experience with budgets, running a department in my old company, the skills are transferable,” Lapadat said.
An electrical engineer for 16 years, most recently for PMC-Sierra, Lapadat’s platform revolves around efficiency. He said he wants to bring both a “top-down” and “bottom-up” approach to how the municipality considers its spending—even if that means foregoing certain planned projects in a given year if that can keep costs in check.
“If you know exactly how many projects you can go after in the budget, are there cost savings you can get amongst all of them? For example, material buys,” he said. “Or are there certain things that hold back the projects? For example, maybe there’s something that you could address better, like a shortage of certain workers, things to smooth out the process.”
Lapadat also wants to streamline approval times in the RMOW’s building department, which developers have consistently indicated can be bogged down in what they see as unnecessary red tape, as well as make it easier for new businesses to set up shop in the resort. The key, he said, is establishing the correct metrics to measure efficiencies and areas for improvement.
Transit is another area where Lapadat believes greater efficiencies can be achieved, particularly around route planning and frequency.
On the all-important housing front, Lapadat believes Whistler could do better at making its case to both the provincial and federal governments for crucial grant money.
“The federal and provincial governments have a view that we’re a rich town. And although there is some big money in town, there’s a lot of people that, for example, might own a $3.5-million home, but only make $100,000, $150,000 a year. If you look at current mortgage rates right now, you need an income of $240,000, roughly, to even get a $1-million mortgage,” he said. “In some ways, it looks like the federal programsarebuildinghousesinOntariofor people that are richer than people that are on the [Whistler Housing Authority] waitlist here. And so the question is: Can we get more of that money by explaining this to the federal and provincial governments for their housing programs? Because the WHA list is not rich.”
As a former board member at the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment, Lapadat credited the RMOW for its new Green Building Policy, which sets higher sustainability standards for new builds requiring rezoning.
An avid chess player, Lapadat hopes to bring his strategic thinking to muni hall if elected on Oct. 15.
“Strategy is something I think transfers from chess to other aspects of government,” he said. “And maybe some of this just isn’t publicized enough, but I’d like to see a little more strategy, a little more analysis [at the RMOW].”
Election day is Oct. 15.