200 turn out to help chose sustainability consultants 

Four consultant companies took the floor separately on Saturday, each presenting compelling reasons to the public on why they should be chosen to chart Whistler's course to sustainability.

While each bid team had its own specific strengths, deciding on the winner may come down to something as simple as the team with the most historical connections to Whistler or the one with the flashiest presentation or the one made up of the most local/Canadian experts.

It will be up to council now to decide who gets the chance to devise Whistler's Comprehensive Sustainability Plan, a plan that updates the 1993 Comprehensive Development Plan and will address things like the ultimate size of the resort, future land use and employee housing.

As each consultant team pointed out, this idea of sustainability as it applies to the future of a municipality, has never really been tackled before. Whistler is really forging the way with this initiative and creating a model that has never existed.

That being the case, the stakes are high.

"I was just amazed by the calibre of people that had been brought together to look at this and by the quality of the teams. It was remarkable," said Eckhard Zeidler, with the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment.

Council will be guided in the decision-making process with community input as each of the roughly 200 people who sat through Saturday's four and a half-hour event were asked to fill out a simple questionnaire, rating each team's credentials and performance.

They were asked to rate the teams on things like how well they defined the characteristics of a successful resort community and how well they conveyed the concept of sustainability in a resort setting.

As Warren Flint, a senior advisor with GBH Consulting Group, summed up:

"Whistler, all you have to do is look around you to see how a successful destination resort can be characterized."

In addition, the public was also asked to rate each team's credentials based on their economic, social and environmental expertise.

"I spoke with a number of community members after the meeting and on Sunday and I got some pretty different views on who they might chose if the choice was up to them," said Tim Wake, an administrator with the Whistler Housing Authority. "So I think it will be really interesting to see what we said as a community on our little evaluation sheets. Was there a consensus there in terms of who we picked or was there a real diversity?"

While there was some similarity and overlap in each of the presentations, each was different in its delivery and some of its substance.

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