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Gordon Jeffrey wants to represent Whistler's working class

If elected to Whistler council this fall, the two-time federal candidate plans to address affordability with discounted transit, parking passes
Gordon Jeffrey is running for Whistler council in the upcoming municipal election.

After representing the satirical Rhinoceros Party in the past two federal elections, you may have been inclined to think of Gordon Jeffrey as a fringe candidate—wearing a banana suit to a debate will do that.

But what quickly became apparent in his two successive bids was that the local server had done his homework, using his platform to shine a light on political corruption at the highest levels and push for electoral reform.

Now, Jeffrey is back on the campaign trail, but unlike last time when he knew he didn’t have much of a shot at getting into office, this go-around, he has eyes on one of six council seats at municipal hall.

“Obviously I had no actual chance of winning, so this is more of a serious bid. It will give me more of an opportunity to give back to the community, to do some good, as opposed to just trying to give attention to corruption in federal politics and other issues that I railed on in my campaign,” he said.

In particular, the 35-year-old would like to inject some youth to a council he feels has “fallen out of touch” with Whistler’s young working class.

"All walks of life need to be represented in government, so if you have six, seven people on council who have too many striking similarities that aren’t necessarily shared with the general community, then there’s an issue there,” he said. “There’s a lot more people here than just retirees.”

One longstanding local issue Jeffrey thinks could benefit from a fresh viewpoint is housing. “That’s a really big issue and anyone who is here who is at the age of these council members is established. Most have their houses and they’ve enjoyed this massive increase in value over the last 20 years,” he said.

Too much emphasis has been placed on dorm-style housing for Whistler’s seasonal workforce, said Jeffrey, who would like to see more affordable homes and apartments built for established young professionals looking to settle down. “We need to look at what incentives have driven developers to build huge, multimillion-dollar vacation homes while affordable housing is left in the dust,” he added. “Nobody should give the best years of their life to a place they love, only to feel pushed out of town because they’re ready to settle down. It’s tragic.”

Tied closely to housing is the issue of affordability. Jeffrey said he’d be in favour of introducing a locals’ parking pass that would either make it free for residents to park at local parks, or in municipal lots across the community. He questioned the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s (RMOW) decision last year to implement pay parking in four local parks, a pilot project designed to manage increasing demand for outdoor spaces, fund park upgrades and take action on climate.

“It is not reasonable to expect a small family to ride the bus to Rainbow Park for a beach day; why punish them for doing so?” he asked. That speaks to another shift Jeffrey would like to see at municipal hall: more carrot, less stick.

“Positive reinforcement,” Jeffrey relayed. “They claim they are trying to increase bus ridership with increased pay parking. I’ve been a champion of public transportation for a long time; I ride the bus every day. It’s the easiest way to reduce both emissions and traffic. If we truly want more people to ride the bus, how about putting those parking fees toward free bus passes for our workers?”

Jeffrey was clear he intends to not only borrow worthwhile ideas from his fellow candidates, but other municipalities as well.

“Another thing I learned from taking part in federal elections was not just how often theft of ideas occurs in politics, but that when it comes to something that can benefit all—such as government—it’s actually a good thing,” he explained. “But good ideas are not enough. To get things done on council, one must be able to convince six dinosaurs of the merit of an idea to get votes passed. I have always been a compelling speaker and am confident this would be one of my greatest strengths.”

Jeffrey will be at Stinky’s on the Stroll every Friday until election day at 3 p.m. for anyone who wants to share their ideas or concerns. For those unable to make that time, he encouraged them to find his email on the election candidates webpage.

Whistlerites head to the polls on Oct. 15.