For the next several weeks, leading up to the one-year election anniversary of the current council, Alta States will focus on some one-on-one time with each councillor.
"In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision."
- Dalai Lama
You can't help but smile around the guy. That shock of red hair, those clear blue eyes, that round happy face — even that booming, welcoming voice of his — it all adds up to such a cheerful whole that you're soon caught up in his merry spirit. No question. Jack Crompton has light-hearted energy to spare.
But don't mistake that light-heartedness for flippancy. Only 37-years-old — and already the father of four kids — Crompton's entrepreneurial chutzpah (primarily in the transportation field) has already delivered impressive financial returns for him, his associates and his family. But that's clearly not what motivates him in life.
Sorry, that's not quite true. What I should have written is that it's not the only thing that motivates him. For Jack Crompton is one of those rare fellows who seems irrevocably, unmistakably, unabashedly in love with life. Totally engaged. Entirely involved with the here and now. Bring up any subject — his wife Carolyn, his children, his friends, his biking, his skiing, his business, his politics — and Crompton will completely open his heart to you. There's no play-acting with Jack. What you see is exactly what you're going to get...
Take his rookie year on council. "What a great experience it's been," he says. And smiles. "I know this sounds like I'm giving you a line. But it's been a lot of fun. Turns out we all get along really well... we actually like being together." He pauses for a breath. "You know, we're all so different from each other, there's such a great diversity of experience there, but somehow it all works... it makes the job thoroughly enjoyable."
And educational. "Being the youngest one on council, I feel like I'm the direct beneficiary of all that experience," he adds. And smiles again. "I'm learning from some of the best mentors in Sea to Sky. And that's very cool..."
Some would say he's selling himself a wee bit short. That behind Crompton's easy-going bonhomie is the sharp mind of a battle-hardened businessman. And that's not a bad thing. Especially in Whistler, especially in 2012.
Oh! But I'm getting ahead of myself again. Let's go back to the beginning. He was born and raised in Kelowna, in the very heart of the Okanagan. But Sea to Sky country, he says, was always his "soul" base. "My granddad, Ray, was a mountaineer," recounts Jack, "He built a cabin at Whistler in the 1960s... in Alta Vista. The very home that I now own and live in with my little brood..."
Whistler was all about family for the Cromptons when Jack was a kid. "Everyone went skiing," says the oldest of four boys. "I remember doing 'technique runs' behind my granddad, a whole gang of us, skiing from top-to-bottom of the mountain. He always reminded us to take a breath and enjoy what he called 'the thrill of the turn.' It's easily one of my favourite memories..."
But Jack's family connections extended even further. "Dave Murray was my second cousin," he explains. "So we were big into the Summer Camp thing too." He stops. Laughs. "I remember leaving town totally exhausted at the end of those camps."
There was no denying it now. Young Jack was smitten with the mountains. And by the mid '90s he was increasingly feeling their pull. "Whistler was very much a winter place for my family. But I was also into mountain biking and camping and climbing so the 'off-season' had more appeal to me." He was living in Vancouver by this point, studying genetics at Trinity Western University in the Fraser Valley. His goal back then, he says, was to enter medical school and become a physician.
Whistler, however, kept calling. "I spent a few years up here after finishing my degree in '98. I kinda became the caretaker for the family cabin. " He laughs. "It was great, you know. Living and playing in the mountains felt way more comfortable than going to school in the city..."
Still, there was this medical degree thing he had to attend to. "So I moved to Edmonton for a year with plans to attend the U of A's medical school there." Meanwhile, he'd met this wonderful woman in Vancouver who just seemed... well, let's just say Jack was quite taken with her. And she (eventually) with him. So they decided to get married. And seeing that Carolyn was from Edmonton originally — well, it only made sense to hold the ceremony there.
But neither his medical studies — nor Alberta's great northern flatlands — could hold Crompton's attention for the long-term. Soon he was pining for the lofty peaks of his coastal home. "I wanted to bring Carolyn to Whistler so she could experience my roots," he explains. "I really wanted to show her what this place was all about." So that's what he did. Alberta and his medical degree soon vanished in the rear-view mirror.
The young couple moved to the Whistler valley in 2001. And immediately set to work putting down roots. "I already knew a lot of people," explains Jack, "having spent all my weekends up here, skiing, riding my bike..." Still, he didn't just sit back and let thing happen on their own. "I went to work for the ski school, helped at a church, did construction..." He laughs. "Even did my fair share of apres-ski."
It felt good to be back, he says, really good. "I've always felt at home here. I mean I left Kelowna when I was 17. Whistler, to me, has always been my real home. To live in the mountains, to have all these cool activities right at your doorstep... I can't imagine anything better."
Jack eventually found a job with the Whistler Community Church. "I spent two great years there," he says, 'I worked as a minister... mostly doing young adult stuff. I really enjoyed my time there. Really wanted to stay..." He sighs. "But you know how Whistler is... hard to pay the bills here. And I needed to find something that could feed my growing family."
So Crompton decided to become an entrepreneur. "I felt like I wanted to create a business that was based here at Whistler... not just an extension of somewhere else." And thus was launched his wild and woolly venture into the world of commercial transportation. "I started Whistler Resort Cabs with a friend of mine," he tells me. "What an education that was!" And laughs. "After four years running that business, I knew way more about transportation than I ever thought I'd want to know."
Still, that fast-accruing knowledge led to ever-more lucrative opportunities for the young businessman. After selling his cab company, Jack launched RideBooker, an online concierge service for transportation bookings across North America. "But," he says. "I can't exist without people round me. Working with an online company like RideBooker was a very lonely experience." That's why, he says, he started Transportation Whistler. "It's a custom transport and delivery service," he explains. "Like, for example, we'll deal with all the transportation needs of an event like the Whistler GranFondo," He grins. "Sure, it can get crazy. But it's fun too. Besides, it's my way of staying connected to people."
And politics? "I started paying attention to municipal politics some years ago," he explains. "And the more time I devoted to attending council meetings and watching how decisions were being made there, the more I began to realize that municipal government is the place where you can actually effect changes in the day-to-day life of your community."
He then tells me a little story about his decision to run for council. "I was having a conversation with a friend of mine," he starts. "And we were looking for reasons why anyone would ever want to vote for me. And he came up with: 'Vote for Jack because he loves this place so much." I told him that was the dumbest slogan I'd ever heard. But this is how he responded: 'You're not running for MLA or MP here son. This is your home. You're not some political animal harbouring some ideological aim. You simply want Whistler to become the best community it can be.'"
Jack stops. Doesn't say anything for a few beats. "To be honest," he says finally, "I just enjoy being a part of helping to ensure the community gets to set the municipal agenda again.... That's why I really ran for council."
And? Is it working? "I think it is happening. It's a fascinating, fascinating process..." He pauses again. "One of the biggest lessons for me has been the realization that a slow and deliberate approach to decisions — you know, really making sure you have all the info you need — will get better results than blindly rushing forward." He smiles. "I always knew that, but seeing it put into practice in government is very cool."