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Pique n' your interest

We'll never know if we don't try

Let's be brutally honest.

The only reason I've been at the municipal workshops on changing Whistler's future for the past two Thursdays in a row is because I've had to write stories on them for Pique.

Sorry mayor, council - that's the truth.

I'm not proud of it. In fact, I'm even a little ashamed, especially when I think back to the first workshop where I actually had the nerve to say I was disappointed there were not more people there, like me, in the 20 to 30 age group.

After all, they are the so-called leaders of Whistler's tomorrow.

Who was I kidding?

If I didn't want to show up, how could I expect anyone else to show up?

But why, when it's something that's so important, are we blowing it off so casually?

And it's not just the twenty-something's that are disengaged from the process. It's everybody.

The municipality cannot be blamed for setting this up and presenting the challenge.

It was a great idea to get the community's input on how they see Whistler by the year 2020... in theory.

But like many public forums, which demand public involvement and the public's valuable time, the Whistler. It's Our Future workshops fell far short of actually achieving their goals.

The bulk of the Whistler community did not show up with their two cents to mull over the criteria of what makes Whistler successful and sustainable.

To be fair, it seems like some pretty heavy stuff for a summertime evening discussion. Throw in a dash of apathy and a splash of laziness and you only have about 100 people showing up - about one per cent of Whistler's population.

And it was the usual Whistler suspects at the workshops; the same handful of locals who show up to all these events - your AWARE members, a handful of long-time residents, some small business owners and a few others.

Instead of hitting the Westin Resort and Spa to get down to over three hours of meaningful discussion, the other 99 per cent of Whistler folks were on their bikes, feeding their families, going for a run, walking their dogs, getting on with the daily grind of life.

And while they were doing this, some of them may have been having discussions among their friends about how Whistler is heading down the tubes.

It's becoming more and more a playground for the rich, and less and less affordable for the regular guys. Development seems to be never-ending. It looks like we're heading for certain demise.

They're the same old things that we always bitch and moan about. I've done it myself over many a beer on Citta's patio, lamenting the fact that one day we'll have to leave this beautiful place because we just can't afford to live here anymore.

Then the municipality gives us the golden opportunity to stop bitching.

They hand it to us on a platter, complete with cookies and coffee.

They say we have a stake in OUR future here.

We can reverse the trends of monster homes lying empty or trees being sacrificed in the name of development.

We can change the rules, make a difference, and get involved.

We can stop Whistler from turning into an Aspen ghost town with empty storefronts and tumbleweed blowing down the main drag.

We can all continue to prosper here without destroying the very thing that makes us rich.

But isn't that like stopping the natural course of inevitable events, like a giant earthquake or tidal wave?

I think more $10-million homes are on the way. I see them every day. How do you stem the tide of something so monstrous?

I think Whistler will grow and grow despite buildout and caps on bed units.

I think Whistler will become too expensive for the average Joe, forcing out a solid community base and eventually the high prices and the lack of affordable housing will dissuade the seasonal workers from coming too.

I think the environment will be compromised too much and people, who see this place as a way to calm the soul, restore the mind through the natural surroundings, will go somewhere else.

Whistler's success will be confined to the annals of some history book as a short-lived Shangri-La.

Then again, all those thoughts may just be a way to ease my guilty conscience for not doing more to make a difference now.

The community will never reach its full potential unless we at least try to do something. And I guess that's the point that council is trying to make.

We'll never know what we can be and what we can achieve if we don't put our heads together, pool our collective knowledge and rise to the challenge.

I can hear that same sentiment echoed from parents, teachers, and coaches, throughout my life.

We cannot think it's an exercise in futility or else we may as well roll over and play dead now, let nature take its course and shove us out of Whistler.

It's time to take a stand.

I say this now from the quiet of my desk on a particularly lovely summer's day in Whistler.

Through my window I can see the snow-capped mountains.

I'm planning to do Train Wreck on my bike after work.

And then maybe a stroll through the village on my way home.

I don't want to be pushed out.

It's time to take advantage of the opportunity before us now.

It might not stop the onslaught of development, the rising prices, and encroachment on our natural environment.

But at least we can say that we tried.

I must keep that in mind for the next meeting.