China is part of the future
It was ironic to me reading Ralph Forsyth’s cautionary tale on developing a proactive tourism strategy with China (Illusive Tiger, Mythical Dragon, Pique Jan. 25), on the same day that the Asian Winter Games opened in Changchun, China http://en.changchun2007.org/zh_cn/ . With more than 1,100 athletes competing in these growing winter games and preparing to come to Whistler in 2010, our terms of engagement with the People’s Republic of China can be more creative and effective.
True the Approved Destination Status matter seems to be embroiled in politics as usual on both sides. But as Whistler’s pioneer spirit, that drives our resort community, has accomplished a world-class reputation, the world of the future involves a China that demands an even more innovative, pioneering spirit.
This is why the Whistler Forum has hosted Confucian scholar Tu Weiming, UBC Business School Deans Muzyka and Wong, National People’s Congress Xin Chunying, and top China expert Pitman Potter. Our current Leadership Sea to Sky cohort is working on a project “Gateway to Asia from the Sea to Sky”. Ali Milner, Ann Chiasson and an increasing number of us have travelled recently to China from Whistler building the relationships that, yes, takes time, and time is of the essence.
As we are pleased to announce the return of our Dialogue Cafes (notwithstanding the Charities Division at Revenue Canada), look for more conversations on China and with Chinese in Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton. Such dialogue does question our assumptions and is consistent with our values. And having just returned from the IOC Museum in Lausanne, I know it is consistent with Olympic values as well.
Thanks to Ralph for raising these matters. We need proactive, constructive, pioneering leadership on China and our changing and often unsteady world.
President, The Whistler Forum
Think carefully about health care
In Toronto, in 2003, a fundraising campaign was organized for the benefit of a large Toronto hospital. Grand idea. But wait. This campaign was directed to members of an exclusive men's club. In return for a sizeable donation, members of this old boys club were promised that, unlike the general public, they wouldn't have to wait their turn for medical attention. In fact, a letter to members explains that donors will be guaranteed access to an orthopaedic surgeon within 24 hours of a diagnosis at the clinic.
In Canada, "jumping the line" has not been allowed since Public Health Care was introduced more than 40 years ago. So despite the campaign organizer's assurance that a tax receipt would be issued for donations, Revenue Canada ruled that money that gets a benefit in return (including distasteful "queue jumping") can't be considered as a gift and, therefore, no receipt for tax purposes can be given.
Inroads being made to destroy our cherished Medicare continue to prevail. In fact it is rumoured that efforts are being made to open a private clinic in Whistler. I urge all citizens to give careful thought to the consequences of such a clinic. Please remember that before Medicare, those without means, who became seriously ill, were forced to live a less than comfortable life or, indeed, left to die.
Get on with housing!
I appreciated your article about Camille and Casey who are finding it difficult to secure a “home” in Whistler (Finding homes still difficult, Pique Jan. 25).
As a local small business owner, who is new to Whistler, I had the same difficulties. Affordable housing, whether short term or long term, just does not exist in Whistler. As a “mature” adult, I am not willing to “shack up” with hordes of partying youngsters who are here for the times of their lives.
I have been very vocal at Tourism Whistler and Whistler Chamber meetings regarding both the lack of housing, staffing difficulties, and losing staff based on my inability to offer them housing (since Whistler-Blackcomb: Intrawest has a monopoly on staff housing).
It's interesting that Louise Lundy from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce has commented that the way to find a place in Whistler to live is by word of mouth.... I don't hear any solutions coming from anyone’s mouths! I've heard the issues time, and time, and time again, but NOTHING is being done about it.
Had I known what I know now, that small business would be receiving so little support from the RMOW, Tourism Whistler, and the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, I would have seriously considered NOT moving to Whistler and purchasing a small business.
I say to those in positions in which they can do something about this crisis... get on with it! What's going to happen when even more hordes of people descend on Whistler for the Olympics? It will be the highest number of homeless ever seen in Canada!
Owner/Operator, Whistler Therapeutics
Searching for balance
I would like to offer some perspectives in looking for ways to reinvigorate our tourism-based economy. In the next couple of days, Tourism Whistler will hold an all-members and board meeting to discuss the Year 2007 Business Plan. So, I believe it is important for member businesses to understand the issues at hand, especially on what direction our tourism-based economy should go.
Having been involved in Tourism Whistler’s Health and Wellness sub-committees for the past one and a half years before being dissolved early this month, I learned some valuable lessons that I want to share in this letter. A lot of people now understand that Whistler is much more diverse than it used to be, in other words we are now much more than a ski resort. This inevitable evolution put us at a crossroad and member businesses will face some tough choices ahead.
These tough choices are presented as a challenge to strike a balance on three delicate issues: 1. Balance between operating for short-term/narrow goal (2010/skiing) and long-term/wider goal (beyond 2010, beyond skiing). 2. Balance between focusing on winter business and becoming an all year round business. 3. Balance between competing against and co-operating with the other members of Tourism Whistler. No doubt, these issues have been discussed openly or less openly in the past among businesses in Whistler. But, I noticed we are now more and more occupied in approaching these subjects from a strictly “scientific” point of view. More research and studies are done to find answers to reach this delicate balance rather than trying to discuss it among member businesses in an open forum. It seems that we are losing faith in our own ability to find the solutions to our problems by discussing it among us. We prefer to have the solutions dropped off by an outside consultant in an effort to avoid debates.
There is nothing wrong with more research and studies to help us understand the changing market. But we should not focus only on the end-result of the studies and ignore the process. We should not sit on our hands just because we are waiting for the consultants to come back to us with their findings. We should not forget that the true answers to our problems will be provided by our customers, not by consultants.
At the end of the day, what really matters is how our visitors perceive us as their destination of choice. And in researching the customers’ perception, individual businesses should have better sense than any consultant, especially on what the customers want and ultimately buy from us. Individual businesses reacted to this changing demand by being innovative with their marketing approaches and product offering and by using their intuition in predicting their customers’ behaviors. Consultants can only offer a snapshot of the market while individual businesses see the whole evolution of their market on a daily basis.
These valuable lessons are simply something that outside consultants will not be able to offer. Engaging the individual businesses in determining which direction to take will not only help us to find a better balance, but it will also help us to get wider support and broader consensus among businesses in the direction that we take. After all, a true balance can only be achieved when there is an absence of the outside influence; otherwise we will end up with an artificial balance that will be short-lived.
PHOTO CAN GO WITH THIS
Buddy’s in Ottawa
RE: Maxed Out, Feb. 25
There already is a B.C. Buddy Mascot!
It was built by Ottawa artist Christine Lowe. “BC Buddy” as he is known, is a beaver of discerning tastes. He made his debut at the “No To Bush Rally” on Parliament Hill in November of 2004, and has appeared in Albert Nerenberg’s NFB-sponsored documentary “Escape To Canada”.
Federal Medical Marijuana License Holder
DATELINE: Whistler, Feb. 1, 2025 – Almost 200 demonstrators gathered in Whistler's Coca-Cola Plaza today to protest against the high price of toilet paper in local stores.
"It's outrageous!" said Gimmeit Tcheepr, head of the We Want Whistler To Be Like Everywhere Else Committee. "I checked the flyer for Shanghai Drugs and they've got the same brand for 15 cents less a roll. And that includes next-day shipping from China."
The owner of one of the local stores explained the price difference was due to the high cost of bringing cheap labour into Canada. "We used to be able to fly in Bolivians who worked for rice and an occasional Red Bull," said the owner, who did not want to be identified. "But now we have to go all the way to Africa for the really cheap workers, and quite frankly, they eat more."
Whistler's new CEO, G. Campbell, Jr., speaking from Nike Municipal Hall, said the demonstrators had a good point. "I'm hoping the Board will be able to discuss the issue at our next meeting in the Grand Caymans," he said. "After all, cheap toilet paper is what made this community great. Oh, and Nike's new bottled water, of course."
"There are always the loudly negative naysayers who try to hold back progress," said Tcheepr, "but look how well it has turned out since we allowed Starbucks to buy all the coffee shops in town. I barely have to walk a hundred feet now without access to my favourite cuppa."
Bruce Profett, who was the last local to own a retail business in Whistler, isn't so sure. Speaking from his home on Vancouver Island, he said, "Whistler's a four-season golf resort now, so I know everything's changed, but I can't help thinking values have gotten a little skewed. After all, is it quality of life people are after? Or quality of shopping?"
Tcheepr insists they have the best interests of the community at heart and will not give up their fight. "Why should people half a world away get to pay less for their toilet paper? It's just not the Canamerican way."
Meanwhile, the president of Halliburton, which bought Whistler-Blackcomb from Fortress three years ago, denies they have plans for further uranium exploration in the Symphony Bowl. More on that after this commercial from London Drugs.
Let’s get over Larco
RE. : London Drugs Application
As a long time Whistler and Village resident I would like to add my support to the application to develop in the proposed location of the Larco development.
I previously was vociferously opposed to this prospect for the same reasons many Whistler residents opposed it, which is to give Larco a financial benefit which is over and above what the original development permit allowed. As difficult as it is to swallow this bitter pill I suggest we do so for the greater good of our village and community.
My reasons are as follows:
I have accepted that our village is a mall. This we will never change no matter how we hope and fantasize for the idyllic character of the quaint homespun world class shopping experience.
In the ’90s we forever changed the character of our village with the addition of Village North. An analysis of the landlord make-up tells us that we will forever be beholden to the distant absentee and faceless corporation who doesn’t give a hoot about the character of our village. Whatever the reasons we have authored our own demise. The village is a MALL. Sadly I now accept this reality. We need not fight it any more.
It is generally agreed that Whistler locals do not frequent the village. London Drugs is considered an “anchor” type of tenant. I haven’t met a local resident who doesn’t shop at London Drugs and doesn’t appreciate its good value and product mix. With 200 free (2hrs) parking stalls centrally located there can only be a huge spillover of shoppers to other retail locations in the village.
In return for the rezoning of this below ground space I would suggest the following: (Along with what is already being offered)
The video arcade serves little purpose and does not generate much revenue. There is approximately 1,500 sq. ft. I would suggest Larco donate this space, with improvements, “gross rent free” in perpetuity to the Whistler Arts Council for the purpose of housing a Whistler Artisans Co-op. Details to be worked out at a later date. With Common Area Costs at $23/sf and rent at say $20/sf we receive a benefit of $64,500 per year.
With an open door to London Drugs from the Co-op we have a below ground mall-like area which will benefit the retailers in the area and give the artisans exposure to substantial traffic, both local and visitor.
Most of what needs to be said you have heard from the community. Let’s not be so stuck on Larco not gaining something and move towards a win/win for the community and the resort. Let’s get the community back to the village.
Rotary Clubs step up to the plate
In the true spirit of Rotary members of the two Rotary clubs of Whistler celebrated the closing of 2006 with an enjoyable social event and a philanthropic activity.
A lively Christmas party was held where the two clubs mingled and celebrated but at the same time remembered the needs of both their own community and those far from our shores. A generous member from each club kicked off the 50/50 draw by donating $1,000 each. The proceeds of this fundraiser, plus those received from the silent auction, totaled over $4,000.
The Whistler Health Care Foundation CT scanner campaign was the local recipient of half the money raised; the remaining half was split between the two clubs to go towards their individual international projects.
As chairperson of the Whistler Health Care Foundation I would like to express the sincere thanks of both the board of directors and the community in general for the generosity and community mindedness of the Whistler Rotarians. Your donation will go towards creating a better health care environment for all the residents and guests in the Sea to Sky corridor.
Should any other community members wish to follow the example set by the Rotarians you can donate at the Whistler Health Care Clinic or go online to www.whistlerhealthcarefoundation.org . Our campaign goal is to raise the remaining $350,000 required to purchase and install the CT scanner, by April 2007.
Chairperson Whistler Health Care Foundation