Alta states 

Dave Patterson: Defining quality of life

click to enlarge Dave Pattereson
  • Dave Pattereson

He’s one of the most positive people I know. Always smiling. Always ready to lend a hand. And he’s one of the most talented too. Sports, work, relationships — doesn’t matter what it is, he’s good at it. But you’d never know it from talking with the guy…

“You don’t want to write about me,” was Dave Patterson’s first response when I suggested doing a piece for Alta States. With his usual “ah-shucks” chuckle, the youthful 47 year old was doing everything he could to wriggle off the story hook. “There’s nothing to write about,” insisted the longtime Whistlerite. “You’ll get bored. The readers will get bored.”

But I persisted. The result: a three-hour conversation that passed by in a blur. And the range of topics was truly impressive. Born and raised in Southern Ontario — the third son in a family of three boys — Dave Patterson’s life as an adult is deeply entwined in Whistler’s life as a mountain community. In many ways, he’s a Whistler archetype. And in many ways (too many to count, in fact), Whistler would be a sadder place without him.

“It’s all about quality of life,” explains Patterson. “And that, to me, was the basis for Whistler in the early years. After all, most of us moved here for the same reason. There was this great way of life here and we all wanted to be part of it.” He stops speaking. Another short chuckle escapes — almost as if he’s embarrassed to go on. Finally he continues. “Now,” he says, “we’re having to deal with a far more complex environment at Whistler. The challenge today for all of us who live here is to determine what that term, ‘quality of life’, should stand for …”

He pauses again. “And in my opinion, that doesn’t mean turning this place into an alpine shopping mall.”

When I ask him to define the term in his words, Patterson doesn’t hesitate. “It’s simple,” he answers. “For me it’s family, community, adventure and playing on the mountain. Nothing more, nothing less.”

He certainly appears to have walked his talk. From his early teenage cross-country odysseys (“on our first trip to Whistler, we just about froze in the prairies.”) to his insatiable appetite for adventure sports (“I remember going 149 km/h down the headwall during my short-lived speed skiing career.”); from his inspired work at the municipality (“I was fortunate enough to be involved in the creation of every park at Whistler.”) to his volunteer time with the Whistler Ski Club (“I’m not into the politics. So I get to be in charge of everything ‘outside the fences.’”), the father of two is a walking-talking-breathing-laughing advertisement for healthy mountain living.

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