Alta States 

Whistler’s future fulfilled

Page 3 of 4

“Living at Whistler has always been about the mountains for me,” she explains. “And I plan to spend as much time enjoying them this winter as I possibly can. I love Victoria and I love the outdoor lifestyle it offers. But I really missed the snow these last two winters. So I decided to work really hard at my studies last summer in order to take some time off now. The fact that the snow is so good this winter makes it even better…”

But things have changed at Whistler since she left for school. And Claire is quickly realizing that not all the changes are positive ones. “I don’t know if I wasn’t paying as much attention before,” she says, “or if my time in Victoria helped me to put things in perspective better. But I suddenly realized this summer that Whistler has been transformed into a ‘shopping mall’ resort.” She stops speaking for a moment. Tries to find just the right words. “I don’t know how to put it any better. In the last five years, Whistler has become a mini West Van.”

And that’s a transformation that she’s not totally comfortable with. “It kind of snuck up on me,” she says. “I can appreciate that it makes the local economy more sustainable — because we’re not so dependent on snow — but it also attracts a kind of tourist that doesn’t really appreciate what I feel is important about the Whistler experience. I mean, are these really the tourists that Whistler should be catering to? And if so what are the consequences? In the end, it makes me want to defend my town more. I don’t want people to think we’re all spoiled rich kids who take what we have here for granted. Because we aren’t and we don’t.”

She takes a breath before continuing. “My parents didn’t come to Whistler to get rich. And neither did the parents of most of my friends. They came here because they loved the mountains. We grew up surrounded by people who, for the most part, had made significant sacrifices to live here. And that really rubbed off on us. We were rough-and-ready mountain kids. We weren’t all that concerned with fashion and labels and following the latest trends.”

From her perspective, Whistler is trying way too hard to be all things to all people now. “When you start trying to cater to such a large group, you end up satisfying no one,” she explains. “Everybody has a mediocre time. Instead we should be focusing more on deciding what kind of tourist we’d like to have at Whistler. And then we should do everything we can to make that person feel good about coming here.”

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