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RMOW signs education agreement with Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Also, Tamwood to offer tourism training course starting this month
ART OF DESIGN Kwantlen Polytechnic University instructor Erick Villagomez teaches a course. Villagomez and the university are launching the Whistler Design Experience this summer. Photo submitted

While in Whistler for Crankworx last year, Erick Villagomez, an intructor with Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU), found himself inspired by the scenery — though not in the same sense that Whistler usually inspires.

"I was amazed at how quickly that place transformed," he said. "Not only just the people that were there, but also the design of the landscape, the design of the plazas, the design of the runs... all of a sudden these ramps pop up and all these land forms start coming in.

"That in and of itself is an act of design."

With that sudden insight, an idea was planted, and on Feb. 25 KPU announced a partnership with the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) to host the Whistler Design Experience — an eight-day course that will offer learners, adventurers and design enthusiasts the opportunity to discover how design, culture and geography influence Whistler.

"I wound up kind of putting my head together with some of the bright minds around here and saying, 'look, what happens if we run a course on trying to show people that beauty?'" said Villagomez, who will be the lead instructor for the course.

The Whistler Design Experience — run through KPU's Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design — will have spots for 25 students and professionals, but Villagomez said no background in design is necessary.

"I think the idea behind this is actually to kind of say, 'look, you don't need to be a designer to appreciate design,'" he said. "We all appreciate it at some level. What we want to do is open peoples' eyes through that lens, to kind of say, 'OK, this is the environment that we inhabit... what goes into the design of this place?"

Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said the partnership was a nice fit for the RMOW.

"This is a field program, and they're going to be looking at both our natural and our built environments through the lens of design, so it's going to be interesting for them... it meshes very nicely with our other educational initiatives we've got underway," she said, referring to things like the Emily Carr summer studio in Whistler and Vancouver Symphony Orchestral Institute.

"It's another key step, really, in the implementation of the Learning and Education Task Force recommendations."

Applications for the Whistler Design Experience will open soon. For more information or to express interest in the course, head to, email or contact Gabrielle Durning at 604-599-2567.

The course costs $2,490 (accommodation, tours, etc. included) and runs from July 10 to July 17.

Meanwhile, Tamwood International is launching a branch of its Tamwood Careers division in Whistler this month.

The initial course offering in Whistler will be a diploma or certificate course in tourism, hospitality and customer service.

Students enrolled in the 26- or 48-week program will be focused on learning and training for careers in tourism and hospitality, and will be able to work while completing their studies.

For more information head to