November 04, 2005 Features & Images » Feature Story

Bob Lorriman 

A strong belief in the public process

Name: Bob Lorriman

Age: 51


Occupation: Recently sold Gone Bakery, working on a new project.

Last book read: (fiction) Red Rabbit by Tom Clancy; (non-fiction) Good to Great by Jim Collins

What music are you listening to these days? World Beat (African).

Favourite recreational pursuits: Skiing, biking and sailing.

1. Why are you running for council?

I’ve always been a strong supporter of public participation, and believe being on council is the strongest form of public participation, except maybe mayor, and I decided to take the next step. I have the time, I have the resources and I can commit to this.

I also sit on so many committees I know I have a good background. When issues come up, they are not new to me.

I guess I’m also not happy where we are right now, in a community sense. We could be doing better.

2. What are the biggest issues facing Whistler?

There are so many answers to that, but I’ve narrowed it down to two basic issues.

One is the economy. It’s an interesting challenge we have in front of us. There’s no magic bullet for it, like financial tools, and putting a London Drugs in the village isn’t going to solve all our problems either. It’s bigger than that.

Hopefully I can be part of the solution, although I don’t know what the solution is yet. I just know the status quo isn’t working.

Our other problem is that we have an incredible opportunity with the Olympics, it’s a huge issue facing Whistler and we haven’t talked about it enough. What I want to see is public participation, and to keep people informed and involved. I think the need for this all came to a head with the Paralympic arena issue, it showed that we definitely need the public to be part of the process.

These two things will be a challenge, but it’s exciting. I’m looking for a challenge.

3. What needs to be done to address those issues?

Economically, we need to clearly articulate the current reality, prioritize the challenges, and make sound decisions and act on them. Rome is burning and we’ve been planning instead of acting, doing things like the CSP (Comprehensive Sustainability Plan). I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but we have to prioritize what we do. One good example of that happened on Monday night (Oct. 17), and council’s decision on the Paralympic arena – that’s as far from a real decision as you can get.

As for the Olympics, we need to stop being afraid of it. Let’s start recognizing the tremendous opportunities that it is creating for us.

The only reason that Whistler is here is that 45 years ago a group of Vancouver businessmen went to the Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley and said we should bring the Games back here.

The tendency has been to find out what’s wrong with the Olympics, rather than focus on what’s right, and in this debate we’re letting opportunities slip through our fingers. We only have a few years to make the most of our opportunities, so we should be rushing into this – I’m not saying to make bad decisions, but we have to make some big decisions soon. We’re not going to make everybody happy, but we have to consider what is best for Whistler in the long run.

Let’s not make those decisions behind closed doors.

4. How will Whistler 2020 help us?

I think we need to focus it more – right now both sides of the London Drugs issue can use the plan to back their positions so it’s not always as effective a resource as we need it to be.

It also needs to be focused on a goal. When Whistler was created, our goal was to be the number one ski resort in North America. Now that we are, Whistler has no goal.

Now we have the Olympics and Paralympics, I think we need a new goal and that’s something like "Whistler will be the number one event venue in North America."

I also have a good idea what Whistler 2020 means by environmental sustainability and social sustainability, but I have no idea what we mean by economic sustainability. Is it boosting hotel occupancy from 47 per cent to 65 per cent?

We need to know where money goes, and how to keep more money in the community to do the things we need to do.

5. Name three things you expect to accomplish in this council’s term.

Affordable housing, although it sounds like that’s almost a done deal. Another is that we need something great for Lot 1/Lot 9. The third thing is to renew our sense of enthusiasm, co-operation and confidence, and by that I mean we have to set goals and reach them.

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