In my eight years in Whistler, I’ve had the absolute pleasure of interacting with hundreds of Whistlerites, from all walks of life.
For the most part, the people of this town are an eminently lovable bunch—thoughtful, generous, creative and driven; fearless in the face of all adversity.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—Whistler just makes ‘em different.
I could easily write a reverse version of this column, highlighting all the Whistler personality types I love—but I hardly have enough space for that, and sometimes it’s just more fun to indulge in a nice, structured rant.
So without further ado, here are five types of Whistler locals that will surely be waiting for me when I arrive at the gates of hell to toil for eternity.
Not exclusive to Whistler, this local is among the most transparently obnoxious. The NIMBY starts all of their correspondence with “I know Whistler needs housing, but…”
They nitpick the smallest details of perfectly serviceable projects, but otherwise stay completely removed from politics and policy unless it threatens to affect them directly (often in minor or negligible ways).
The NIMBY loves to start petitions and appeal to the emotion of unsuspecting, uninformed citizens to build an illusion of grassroots support.
They are excessively whiny and overdramatic about the perceived impacts of specific projects. They are also known to bend the truth wherever convenient.
Above all else, the NIMBY fears change, and thrashes wildly in a sad, futile dance protesting the great forces of the universe.
It is beautiful and haunting, in equal measures.
THE KOOL-AID DRINKER
One of my favourite ways to describe the culture of Tiny Town, at least as far as Corporate Whistler goes, is as a patchwork of partially distinct religious cults, all serving a similar greater purpose as dictated by the Tourism Gods.
Whether it’s Munitology or Vailism, Visitationism or Monopolism, each of Whistler’s faux religions has its own fevered practitioners, ready and willing to die on any hill they’re asked.
They have “drunk the Kool-Aid,” as they say, and nothing will bring them back to the balanced, reasonable centre where public discourse should strive to exist.
Like real religion, I have no qualms with those who practice in peace—it’s the fundamentalist extremists I can do without.
Whistler’s local religions have their fair share of those. They like to message you on Facebook to make sure you’re understanding their corporate message, or leave you anonymous voicemails expressing their outrage and disgust. If you’re extra subversive, they’ll sue!
THE SHADOW CAMPAIGNER
You know the type—the one who’s just itching to submit their nomination papers and announce their candidacy for the October municipal election.
They’ve been attending council meetings, writing letters, and popping up at public hearings to get their time on the mic.
They’ve probably already got their press release on their desktop, waiting to hit send.
If they’re smart, they’ve been putting in the real work on committees and through volunteering, and they’ll let their work and ideas speak for themselves when the campaign begins in earnest.
More likely, they’re planning controversial “big-splash” announcements that are long on optimistic buzzwords and short on logistical runway, or even a basic understanding of how things like zoning and local government processes work.
The Shadow Campaigner is driven almost entirely by ego, and should evoke caution—they aren’t in it for you.
THE COMPLAINER/CONSPIRACY NUT
I often say that municipal government is thankless work, because it is—your every decision is under a microscope, it’s impossible to please everyone, and sometimes you have to put up with smartass editors calling you old in the newspaper for no reason.
Public criticism is a cornerstone of any healthy democracy, but the Complainer takes their disdain for politicians too far, often out of some unspoken personal grudge.
It doesn’t matter what council does, or doesn’t do, the Complainer could have done it better, or they wouldn’t have done it at all—and they’re going to let you know that at every opportunity.
Two sides of the same coin, the Conspiracy Nut is a faction that is growing its ranks of late. Like the Complainer, the Conspiracy Nut refuses to be satisfied, but often for different reasons.
Whatever explanations are given, the Nut finds their own, much more nefarious, exciting, and downright implausible answer.
They interpret current events from a place of extreme bad faith, then spout their findings back to you as fact.
Neither the Complainer nor the Nut has anything useful or constructive to add to the greater discourse, or society’s steady march towards progress. They just need to be heard.
THE PETER PAN
There comes a time in every man or woman’s life when they have to do away with childish behaviours and thought processes, and truly embrace adulthood.
Shower up, put on a collared shirt, go by your real name.
Unless you live in Whistler, of course.
In Whistler, you can go the rest of your life being affectionately referred to as the nickname you got when you were 18—probably something like “Barfbag” or “Scuznuts”—and people will not shame you for your substance abuse issues, but applaud them.
If that ain’t the epitome of living the Whistler Dream, I don’t know what is.
On second thought, I might be approaching this category out of nothing more than bitter jealousy. I think Whistler culture needs the Peter Pan more than it realizes, now more than ever. You keep living the dream, Scuznuts.
Actually, on further reflection, chances are you would find some version of these character archetypes in any community, so maybe this is less a cheeky examination of Whistler’s local politics than it is of local politics in general. But “Municipal politics: a character study” is frankly not a very catchy headline, so let’s go with what we’ve got.
At any rate, that’s my list. I hope you got a kick out of this tongue-in-cheek, completely subjective sociological examination. I don’t mean to offend anyone (and I’m sure more than a few would include “snarky Pique writers” on their own list), but if any of this hits a little too close to home, feel free to send me an email.
I will give it a once-over and assign you a category of your own.