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Opinion: Looking back on half a year at Pique

'It’s been a wild ride so far'
Pique'n - North Arm Farm - Robert Wisla
North Arm Farm in Pemberton.

It has been a little over six months since I moved to the Sea to Sky at the beginning of April, and I thought for this week’s Pique’n, I’d reflect on the past half year of living in the region and what the experience has been like so far. 

Over the past several months, I’ve talked with Olympians, covered numerous Whistler council meetings, interviewed provincial party leaders, and most recently covered a historic land transfer agreement that saw the Lil’wat Nation assume control over some of its traditional territory. 

That barely scratches the surface, and it has been a wild ride and an exciting experience to say the least.

What are my early takeaways?

For one, my impression of Whistler and the Sea to Sky region has changed dramatically since moving here. In particular, my opinion of the Pemberton Valley, perhaps more than anywhere else, has changed the most—what I used to view as a sleepy stopover I now realize is a bustling (and near bursting) little community. 

Growing up, my father and I would make the rare summer road trip from Kamloops to Vancouver along Highway 99, and for years, Pemberton was just a quick stop at the gas station, my father and I barely stopping to smell the roses on our way to the city. 

Having lived in the region for a few months, I’ve learned so much about the Pemberton Valley, and it is truly a fantastic place with a real sense of community. 

One of my favourite activities this summer was driving up the Pemberton Meadows and stopping at some of the farms on the way to get fresh produce, then going for a walk along the riverside trails. 

Quaint, understated—and a perfect way to spend an afternoon.

As for Whistler, I don’t think I’ve given the town its fair shake quite yet. My list of complaints about the resort municipality is longer than when I first moved here, and I’m sure one of these days I’ll write an opinion piece about what I love and hate about this town. 

But overall, living in Whistler has been a very positive experience. It is one of the most beautiful communities in the province, after all. The mountains, waterfalls and trails make the town a true nature enthusiast’s paradise.

The most surprising thing about moving here? The sheer number of bears in the valley. One of my favourite Whistler moments so far occurred as I was driving down Alta Lake Road, when, to my surprise, I saw a mama black bear with three of the cutest little cubs following along, scuffling up a hillside. 

Looking back on the stories I’ve written for Pique in the last year, my personal favourites range quite a bit. Generally, the assignments that get me out of the office are the best: exploring new places and meeting new people. 

But the most engaging story to write and research was, without a doubt, my feature on the growth of the Bridge River region. I had never been to that part of British Columbia, and the immense weight of its history and its imposing, rugged topography made it feel like a true adventure to get to and explore. 

I’ve also really enjoyed learning more about the local First Nations. Learning about Lil’wat, N’quatqua and Squamish, and the whole St’at’imc Nation, in particular, has been an incredible experience. 

I loved attending the summer powwow (Lil’wat sure knows how to dance!) as well as events such as a story pole dedication at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.   

The work being done by the Nations, like the upper Meadows land reclamation or the construction of new housing and commercial operations, is truly impressive. 

As we look to the next six months, the pace isn’t about to slow—I’m looking forward to the new Whistler council and all it has to offer as the town tackles the significant challenges ahead.

As for me, I still have a lot to learn, and I hope to be able to tell more of the community’s stories during my time at the newspaper. 

But it’s been a wild ride so far.

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