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Candidates for Whistler mayor

Brian Walker Age: A young 54 Website: VoteWhistler.com, THE site for election info! Occupation: Writer Last book read: Sir John A. a biography of Canada's first prime minister and the genius on our $10 bill.

Brian Walker

Age: A young 54

Website: VoteWhistler.com, THE site for election info!

Occupation: Writer

Last book read: Sir John A. a biography of Canada's first prime minister and the genius on our $10 bill.

What music are you listening to these days? Music that I sing and play on guitar. It includes: The Searchers, The Band, Johnny Cash, The Turtles, The Stones, Tom Petty and others.

Favourite recreational pursuits: Riding my ancient hard-tail around town, disc golf, reading, writing and jamming on guitar with friends.

 

1. Why are you running for mayor?

The current mayor and council have lost the confidence of the community to act in our best interest. I'm running for mayor to extend my experience of organizing business leaders to direct municipal government into actually being in municipal government.

 

2. Given that revenue from development is declining and the municipality is more dependent on hotel tax revenue at a time of economic uncertainty, how do you propose the municipality balance its budgets the next few years?

The next council will have to cut expenses until the world financial crisis becomes clearer. We cannot continue spending taxpayer money as we have been. It's part of what led to the current lack of confidence. Whistler needs a larger share of hotel tax revenue until the economy stabilizes. This point needs to be driven home with the provincial government.

 

3. What other important issues does Whistler face in the next three years?

1. Employee Accommodation is our #1 issue. On top of the collapse of the Phoenix Project, which would have provided accommodation for seasonal employees, many long-term residents are being blatantly evicted from their apartments in advance of the Olympics.

2. Day care is a major issue for young families in Whistler who are already struggling with the expense of living here.

3. In the opinion of many guests of Whistler, our arts and culture do not meet with their expectations for the #1 alpine resort in North America.

 

4. What needs to be done to address those issues?

1. Revive the Phoenix Project on the lands already designated with temporary leased ATCO trailers if need be. Encourage home owners with tax breaks to rent apartments they already have and are not renting. Penalize those who evict employees for short-term gain with tax increases to account for the tax breaks. Stratify homes so that employees can actually buy their apartments from their landlords and start paying taxes.

2. Take $1 from every lift ticket sold year-round and use it to subsidize day care facilities and staff in Whistler. Use the excess money to help address employee accommodation. I'd like hear the Whistler-Blackcomb response.

3. Bring BCIT to Whistler and create a Media Campus in the studios of MY Place and in the conference centre. Providing media services for business, sports and entertainment events would increase room nights and help us through these uncertain times. More importantly, it would help defray the cost of carrying MY Place debt and produce an archive of content that more accurately describes Whistler to the world. A media campus is the leverage Whistler needs to mature all aspects of our arts and culture. Banff has the Centre for Fine Arts, we can have the Whistler Centre for Media Arts without the capital costs of land, bricks and mortar.

Jag Bhandari

Age: 42

Website: jb4whistler.com and onevisiononeworld.tv

Occupation: President of Century 21 Apex international

Last book read: 365 prescriptions for the soul

What music are you listening to these days? Classical

Favourite recreational pursuits: tennis

 

1. Why are you running for mayor?

My whole platform for running in Whistler is to create ideal and prosperous environment for local residents, youngsters, seniors, businessmen and above all for visitors who are the main source of our overall growth. My campaign is based on honesty, integrity, sharing the best, accountability, technological education, two-way communication channel between local community and administration, development of childcare, day care, healthy community centres and above all the implementation of One Vision One World.

I am running for mayor in Whistler because change is needed in the resort village. I am the founder of One Vision One World and travelled different parts of Canada to promote world peace and boundaryless world. The main focus of my trip is to encourage the Canadians to come out and use their judgment to elect the right leadership. There is a dire need of right kind of leadership in the world to bring peace and promote communal harmony. To achieve this goal, we can utilize ever-changing technology for our benefit. The most important need is to educate our parents and grandparents with the help of technology, so they can be well connected with their siblings.

The unity of the world is much needed to bring down the mental barriers as well as man made boundaries around the world. When we are united as one entity that can save our resources to connect ourselves with the outer world. This can only be attained if we involve ourselves at grass roots level in the world politics and force our leaders to stop using our hard earned resources for waging fruitless wars.

The history is a witness that any movement always starts from one and then it spreads like a wild fire to bring a positive change in the lives of everyone. This kind of history making movement always starts from one city to another city, one province to another province and it quickly engulfs the whole world. The concept of One Vision One World implies that there is no room for any kind of violence as well as for vandalism, no room for drugs and any type of discrimination, zero toleration for corruption and pollution and above all there is no room for long lineups for medical emergency as well as for heavy traffics. An average world citizen enjoy happy life while living together, working together, dancing together and above all embracing one another's faith with a smile on their face.

Do you know that in one day there are 86,400 seconds and a normal world citizen sleeps at least 28,800 seconds (8 hrs) a day. It means that we have an opportunity to smile at least 57,600 seconds in a day, so we should smile and smile and smile because smile is contagious. Why not we smile together, dance together, bring the whole world together while holding one another's hands.

 

2. Given that revenue from development is declining and the municipality is more dependent on hotel tax revenue at a time of economic uncertainty, how do you propose the municipality balance its budgets the next few years?

I will do the full review of all the departments and make adjustments based on our budget. I will work towards the development of more innovative and entertainment projects such as outdoor shows, music competition, dance competition, painting competition, TV shows, reality shows which will enhance our image not only locally in our homeland but also around the world to attract large numbers of tourists to come all year around rather than only during the ski season.

 

3. What other important issues does Whistler faces in the next three years?

a. Waste created by temporary infrastructure such as tents, garbage such as paper cups.

b. Security issues.

c. Education of local residents to make them aware about forthcoming events.

 

4. What needs to be done to address those issues?

a. Tents can be reused for other events, which can continue to promote other events such as trade shows, fashion shows, cultural shows etc. TV reality shows can be created and telecasted to teach everyone to promote how to stack the paper cups after we use it. Believe me this alone will do wonders.

b. We have to start looking into security right now and should start recruiting and training  our  local youth.

c. I will work towards opening the modern technology schools for seniors and local residents so that they don't look confused about the forthcoming events and can effectively communicate with their children and grand children.

Ken Melamed

Age: 54

Website: www.mayormelamed.com

Occupation : Mayor

Last book read: Let My People Go Surfing, Yvon Chouinard

What music are you listening to these days? Jazz mostly, world beat, salsa, Canadian folk/folk rock, blues

Favourite recreational pursuits: Mountain biking, skiing, skate X-C

 

1. Why are you running for mayor?

I have been honoured to serve the Whistler community over the last 12 years. The last three years in the mayoral role have allowed me to grow with the challenges and to deliver on many of the community’s chosen tasks. The hard work has been rewarding, and I believe that we have been successful in making Whistler a better place with a stronger economy.

When I ran in 2005, I ran with the intention of serving for two terms, to ensure that the Games were delivered according to the community’s Guiding Principles. I am the only remaining elected official still serving since the inception of the bid. Having worked so hard to shape the community’s opportunity, I believe that I am the best qualified to lead us to the completion of this task.

I have worked hard this term guiding council through a substantive amount of difficult decisions. I am eager to see to completion the unfinished projects, of which I have gained such intimate knowledge during the approval processes.

Finally, I have a deep commitment to Whistler and to our future. Our community advantage is the collaborative model and shared understanding of who were are and where we want to go. We can take great pride in our achievements, which are inspiring other communities around the world.

 

2. Given that revenue from development is declining and the municipality is more dependent on hotel tax revenue at a time of economic uncertainty, how do you propose the municipality balance its budgets the next few years?

We will continue to consult and engage with the community in an effort to find the appropriate balance of investment in our product and service delivery while striving to keep the burden on the taxpayers as low as possible. The large projects this council was tasked to complete are fully funded, and the capital plan for the coming years is drastically reduced. Capital projects now on the books will be reviewed, and new projects will only be adopted as deemed necessary, as can be afforded and only subject to the community’s approval.

I signed the Revenue Sharing Agreement with Minister Chong, finally achieving this fantastic result after many years of effort on the community’s behalf. We have used the new hotel tax revenues, in part, to increase investment in marketing, which effectively funds itself, and puts more “heads in beds”. This new funding opportunity has allowed the community to fund improvements without burdening the taxpayer.

The re-write of the Long Term Financial Plan is an essential component of a strategic approach to excellence in fiscal management. The objective is to ensure our economic viability while living within our means and keeping taxes low.

 

3. What other important issues does Whistler faces in the next three years?

The 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games must be our primary focus for the first half of the term. We must never lose sight of our responsibility to our fellow British Columbians and Canadians. These are Canada’s Games, and they are ours to deliver.

Labour shortages, housing and affordability are all closely linked, and continue to be our toughest challenges. The issue of temporary housing is still critical in front of the Games and has been suggested as a need for the long term.

Community safety, taking back our village, and encouraging respectful behaviour towards our guests and fellow town’s folk continue to be issues we have to resolve.

 

4. What needs to be done to address those issues?

Games delivery partners are moving from strategy and planning to preparation and operations mode. The partners include Tourism Whistler, the Whistler Arts Council, the Chamber of Commerce, and Whistler-Blackcomb, who have each taken on aspects of the Games opportunity. The Strategic Framework developed by staff in consultation with and adopted by the community is ready to be implemented, and I am completely confident in our collective ability to derive the maximum benefit from our role as co-hosts.

The labour/housing/affordability challenges will require input and consultation with the community. The chamber has been actively working on visa issues for foreign workers, and training programs with the province. The WHA has invested in another rental housing building at Cheakamus Crossing, and the new 100-bed youth hostel could provide an additional low cost alternative. Transit fares continue to be among the lowest in the province and an employee bus pass program is a priority.

Safety and Respect require upstream actions such as controlling access to liquor, building community pride and programmed events which encourage positive social behaviour. Many communities are faced with similar problems and we must actively seek out the programs which have had success. We are beginning to see investment from the province into programs which encourage healthy and active lifestyle choices, and those should be supported. Investments in activities for youth could well result in reduced enforcement and maintenance costs. Crime Stoppers and the newly created Citizen’s Patrol are programs which support this important effort.

Kristi Wells

Age: 39

Website: www.wellsformayor.com

Occupation: Founding and operating Collaborative Management Inc., a business consulting company specializing in concept development, negotiation, consensus building and government relations. My clients have included private developers, B.C. communities and international investors. I am currently Project Manager for the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations regarding the development of their Legacy Land Agreement.

Last book read: The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell

What music are you listening to these days? Country/pop

Favourite recreational pursuits: Skiing, mountain biking/hiking and gardening

 

1. Why are you running for mayor?

My decision to declare my candidacy for mayor is motivated by my serious concerns for the long-term viability of Whistler. Our community requires a mayor that provides business leadership, determines sound direction and takes responsible actions. I have received overwhelming support and encouragement to seek this position.

Now is the time to proactively seize the opportunities that the Olympics offer, tighten our government spending and foster relationships that look toward the future. With a strong leadership team, we will be well positioned to take our community to a richer level of the resort experience and embrace cultural, educational and recreational diversification.

I offer a chance to rebuild confidence in your municipality, its choices and its business practices. As your mayor, I would recognize the value of common sense government and the expectations of transparency. It is time to ensure that all information is readily available and decisions are being made publicly. I am a leader who is ready to listen and will ensure effective dialogue by taking the issues to the community in a clear and concise manner.

My 12 years as a municipal councillor, my local small business experience and my professional consulting background give me particular insight into the demands, challenges and responsibilities of this position. I have chaired and sat on numerous boards and committees and been involved in many community organizations. I am proud to be a member of this community and am committed to raising my family here.   I have the passion, experience and business acumen to successfully lead Whistler into the next decade.

 

2. Given that revenue from development is declining and the municipality is more dependent on hotel tax revenue at a time of economic uncertainty, how do you propose the municipality balance its budgets the next few years?

In order to balance the budget and not incur any more municipal debt there are two areas that need to be addressed immediately — stabilizing revenue sources and responsibly managing capital spending and its associated operational costs. In regards to the fluctuating hotel tax I would do the following:

• Council needs to revisit the current five-year financial plan with the goal of removing at least 25 per cent of the anticipated hotel tax funding from the equation. This will mean re-establishing community priorities and making some tough decisions.

• Immediately renegotiate the Shared Revenue Agreement with the provincial government with the goal of extending the additional 4 per cent hotel tax beyond spring 2011. The case has been well established for this share to be given back to Whistler to reinvest in visitor related expenses. We need to aggressively lobby for funding in perpetuity in order to support the operational costs of our tourism infrastructure beyond the Games.

As for responsibly managing the capital spending, I would suggest the following actions be taken:

• Because of the need to freeze unnecessary spending, the current capital program will be scaled back and some projects halted. We must commit to acquiring no further debt and use the leveraging ability of public/private partnerships and joint ventures as the framework for undertaking any new or planned capital projects.

• The biggest liability the community faces is the ongoing operational costs of these facilities. We must r eview expenses and revenues associated with each municipal facility and within municipal hall to find efficiencies and better ways to manage and creatively finance the overheads.

• The current budget calls for a property tax increase annually rising to 15 per cent in 2012. It is imperative that we start living up to the values outlined in the 2020 document and “live within our means.”

 

3. What other important issues does Whistler face in the next three years?

In addition to maximizing the Olympic opportunity, there are several major issues that Whistler must address in the next three years, including the seasonal housing crisis, affordability initiatives and strengthening key relationships.

These are not new issues and now is the time to aggressively provide solutions.

Seasonal Housing Shortage:

Whistler’s lack of affordable, seasonal housing is not a new issue but it has reached a crisis level. Valuable workers are leaving their jobs and the community because they cannot find a place to live. Many potential new workers are being discouraged and not even bothering to try to locate in Whistler. The direct and indirect impacts of this situation are being felt throughout the community fabric.

Despite recent studies outlining the lack of employees and the obvious link to insufficient housing as well as ongoing housing reports and analysis confirming that this is a chronic issue, the current mayor maintains that the problem will go away post 2010.

Whistler Affordability:

The municipality cannot control all aspects of affordability but can control some. Over the past three years, the cost of taking transit has gone up, municipal user fees and taxes have increased and admission prices to Meadow Park Sports Centre have risen.

Issues such as limited and threatened day care availability as well as cost-prohibitive “resident affordable” housing projects are offered little support or creative solutions. These situations could have been mitigated with proactive leadership and a commitment to affordability initiatives at a grass roots level.

Building Partnerships and Relationships:

Whistler has not invested enough in strengthening relationships with other levels of government including neighbouring communities and First Nations. Opinions and perspectives from the private sector and community partners are often disregarded. The municipality can be perceived as arrogant and closed to new opportunities or different ways of conducting business. Our community can no longer afford this attitude.

 

4. What needs to be done to address those issues?

My solutions for the shortage of seasonal housing:

The municipality must take responsibility for resolving the seasonal housing shortage by providing a rental apartment building for next season. Council must take the lead and drive this project by:

• Providing land (or long-term lease) at no cost to the developer without DCC’s and taxes.

• Initiating a proposal call from the private sector for partnership or joint venture.

• Finding creative solutions that will minimize costs and risks to the taxpayer.

• Streamlining the rezoning and permitting process.

My solutions to help address affordability:

Free transit has been proven to be a major factor in addressing affordability. Currently we are not in a financial position to offer this option, however we can greatly improve service and increase cost efficiencies by:

• Redesigning the transit system with highway-only commuter buses and small neighbourhood shuttles.

• Freezing transit fares and securing a long-term funding commitment for Squamish and Pemberton routes.

Other suggested initiatives that can directly address affordability are:

• Capping all municipal user fees, Meadow Park admissions and tax increases beyond inflation for two years.

• Initiate a childcare needs analysis for the community and proactively seek and support daycare opportunities.

• Modify the covenants of the resident housing submarket in order to level the playing field and ensure affordability in perpetuity.

My solutions towards strengthening key relationships:

Through my business and political work, I have fostered long-standing relationships with the communities in the Sea to Sky corridor including the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations and provincial and federal governments. These relationships are critical for our future success and need to be nurtured by investing time, determining mutual benefits and building bridges of co-operation.

I am not afraid to pick up the phone when the Whistler community needs answers, alternatives or assistance.

Miro Kolvek

Age : 46

Website : Coming soon

Occupation : Owner and operator of Esquire Coffeehouse with Whistler Coffee Company

Last book read: Trump: Surviving at the Top by Donald Trump

What music are you listening to these days? All kinds of music. I love classical, and I love classic rock.

Favourite recreational pursuits : I love movies, reading, and talking to friends and people.

 

1. Why are you running for mayor?

Whistler is home to me, my wife and my children. I have four children, and I have been married almost 20 years. We love it here. It is a beautiful place. It is one of the best places on this planet.

I think Whistler can benefit from a leader who cares about the citizens and the future of our community. Whistler deserves a mayor of high moral character. Someone who is honest and can be trusted and relied on. I recognize that there are different people over here, and they have different needs, from people who come over here for a weekend, for a week, for a year, or for a season. Sometimes factions disagree about what should be done. I will work very hard to find win-win solutions for the different interests in our community.

I’m a person who wants to hear from you and try to provide a smile. Nobody knows about my professional background, but that has basically prepared me — through my experience over two continents and a few countries — to serve as mayor. Some people ask me whether I have executive experience. The answer is yes, of course, I do. I have a lot.

My leadership style includes empowering people. I want to hear from everybody, so everybody can become part of a solution. This is not a one-man show. Whistler is an awesome place, with awesome people in so many key areas.

 

2. Given that revenue from development is declining and the municipality is more dependent on hotel tax revenue at a time of economic uncertainty, how do you propose the municipality balance its budgets the next few years?

We all have to get together, and we have to think what we can do in Whistler to cut costs, and to bring new sources of revenue.

We need to think about those things in the short term, but also long term. The long term is much more important. The municipality has invested millions of dollars into projects, but revenue is not coming back. We need to find a way.

  For example, we need to recycle more products that are now being sent to landfills, and to be able to sell our recyclable waste. Eventually the perfect goal will be zero waste.

We need to plan now for efforts to make Whistler more economical, especially post-Olympics. We don’t want to become a ghost town. Right away we have to analyze the economy and the possibility of small businesses to see what it will take to help them survive after the Olympics. Nobody will win if the small businesses lose.

We need a flexible community plan that we can put into action once the Olympics is gone.

 

3. What other important issues does Whistler face in the next three years?

We have to start with little things before we move to the bigger things. We definitely need the highway to continue through Whistler. We need at least three lanes.

We can do many things about affordable housing. We especially need to do this for our teachers, because they care about children. Children need to be well educated, because well-educated people are very good for the community and the country. Poor countries have poor educational systems. We are living in the best place on this planet.

But I also thing it would be wonderful, in the future or right away, to become senior friendly. Senior citizens, they built this country. We have baby boomers coming. Americans and Canadians will be retiring, including younger people retiring. They will be attracted to live in resort areas like Whistler. We can provide them with our services and they can provide income. We will need more extensive health care and suitable housing.

Young families, single mothers, and senior citizens, they need tax breaks. We have to minimize property taxes, especially for senior citizens.

 

4. What needs to be done to address those issues?

You attract people with low taxes, so minimize these taxes. Right now, to raise taxes is the worst idea. People need to pay for houses. People need to pay mortgages. People need to stay in their houses. People need a job and a house. People have too many worries.

We have to think about what types of enterprises we would like to encourage in Whistler to make this a four-season resort community. We pay the same rent in the winter like the summer, spring or fall. I want to shrink the off-season. I think the mayor should be responsible to the community as much as possible. Everybody can go to him and talk to him. I’m still working my job. Unfortunately, we are in a situation where many people have two jobs. We have to take care together as a community.




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