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Candidate profile: John Grills

Two-term incumbent Councillor John Grills didn't wake up one day and decide to become a politician—he just wanted to help his community.
Council candidate John Grills. Photo submitted.

Two-term incumbent Councillor John Grills didn't wake up one day and decide to become a politician—he just wanted to help his community.

"It was back in 2011 when we had the really depressed business levels, and I felt the community was without strong leadership, and I can sit and complain or I can see what I can do to assist," Grills said.

And yet, seven years later, Grills still feels there's more he can contribute.

"I think we've accomplished a lot, and there's a lot on the go right now. I'd like to get some of those projects over the finish line," he said, pointing to things like the Official Community Plan, Cheakamus Crossing Phase 2 and other housing projects.

"In a perfect world, it would have been nicely all wrapped up and (Mayor) Nancy (Wilhelm-Morden) can retire with a few more things accomplished, but we have done a lot."

Some of Grills' noted accomplishments over the last term include work on wildfire, the new Nesters Waste Depot and Whistler Community Services Society building, the Audain Art Museum, increased transit and free transit weekends in the summer, and acquisitions like the Parkhurst and Prism lands.

"And as much as it's not enough, Cloudburst (in Cheakamus Crossing) was opened and two more Whistler Housing Authority buildings are on the way," he said.

During his time on council, Grills has sat on more than a dozen boards and committees, including serving as chair of the Finance and Audit and Human Resources.

The last two councils that Grills has been a part of have been widely credited with the resort's recent record-breaking visitor numbers and financial success.

While some might like to see things slow down, Grills said he would like to see current levels maintained.

"I sit on the Advisory Design Panel and you see a lot of buildings (reinvesting) ... That's been happening over the last three or four years, and that's a result of confidence and business levels that allow them to invest, so I want to see us maintain that," he said.

"At the same time, how do we, as a community, enjoy this place that brought us here in the first place, and protect it?"

Grills first came to Whistler to ski in 1975, and his first foray into the local business community came when he opened The Keg at the Mountain in 1983.

A few years later, he and his wife moved to the resort, where they raised their three kids and have lived ever since.

If reelected, Grills said his priorities would be continuing the work on the housing files, working with existing homes on energy efficiency under the BC Step Code and working with government partners on regional transit.

"I don't talk a lot about myself, but I think I have a bit of a knack for it. I can look at all the issues and try and find a solution," Grills said, adding that everyone comes to the table with different opinions and experiences.

"It's sitting there and finding, 'OK, well how can we make this work?' and I look not only to make the decision that affects the community today, but what's it going to look like 10 years from now or 20 years from now?"