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Mayoral candidate Marcus Culver sees housing as key to solving many of Whistler’s pressing issues

Environmentalist says addressing ‘housing emergency’ would help ameliorate issues around staffing, transportation, climate and mental health
N-Marcus Culver 29.29 SUBMITTED
Marcus Culver.


Like so many Whistlerites before him, mayoral candidate Marcus Culver works a litany of jobs to make ends meet. A chef, chauffeur, seasonal contractor and part-time mattress salesman, the 41-year-old knows full well what it takes to play and stay in one of the country’s most expensive resorts. But as he’s watched the community he loves become even less accommodating to the young working-class that makes this town tick, he knew the time was now to step up and do something about it.

“I just decided to throw myself into the deep end,” he said. “I’ve been in town since ’99 and over my time here, I’ve just become increasingly more concerned about protecting our natural environment, both locally and globally, which has inspired certain lifestyle choices I continue to make today. And I’ve become more involved. I’ve started going to council meetings, attending all the community forums, often being the youngest person there. There are so many issues I see in this town that are not getting dealt with.”

One of those issues, in Culver’s mind, is affordable housing, a longstanding puzzle that, if solved, would help address myriad other persistent challenges that Whistler is facing.

“I’d say the biggest issue is actually an umbrella issue, because if you tackle the housing emergency, you simultaneously remedy the staff shortages, access to health-care and child-care, and even assist with mental wellness, which is huge. You don’t hear about that a lot in this town,” he said.

Now that the Whistler Development Corp. has paid off the roughly $10 million in debt it owed to the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), money that will go into the RMOW’s housing reserve fund, Culver said he wants to continue working with the municipal subsidiary and other construction firms to “immediately” start building more affordable housing projects. He also discussed the possibility of hiring more employees to the RMOW’s building department to help manage the workload, and recommended working with the provincial and federal governments to secure housing grants.

An environmentalist who has previously served on the board of the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment, Culver would like to see Whistler move quicker on its lagging climate goals.

“I want to see transparency and I want to see us actually reaching these goals. Whatever it takes,” he said. “We need more task forces, maybe, to come up with some easy solves to get people to drive less. It’s not like we’re going to meet any of these goals otherwise.”

Culver said he’s heard a range of ideas from community members that he believes could move the needle on reducing emissions locally, including subsidizing more passenger rail service to the resort, establishing a valley gondola system, and launching a bus shuttle service that would ferry visitors in from Alice Lake, where they would park their vehicles. He was also in favour of the RMOW’s recent move to increase service frequency on the popular No. 10 transit route.

“Ridership would also increase if it could be a free service,” he added. “Perhaps we could also rebrand the transit system to something a little more enticing, such as ‘community shuttle service.’”

Culver also wants to step up education efforts locally around cohabitating peacefully with wildlife. Along with steeper fines for endangering wildlife for things like improper waste disposal, Culver said he’d like to see the minimum standards for killing a bear be raised at the provincial Conservation Officer Service, as well as more signage locally. To help with that, he said he would “like to see three big billboards at either end of town that addresses we’re living in bear country … and having the max fine in big letters, so you can’t miss it.”

With few young voices at last week’s all-candidates meeting at Whistler Secondary, Culver is determined to get that demographic out on election day.

“That’s the billion-dollar question,” he said. “Most people that are here to work are from out of the country and can’t vote. And those that are, are working multiple jobs like me and don’t have time. That’s something I actually want to try to work on and try to get more people out to vote.”

Culver joins Brian Walker and incumbent Jack Crompton on the ballot for mayor.

Whistlerites head to the polls on Oct. 15.