Candidate profile: Arthur De Jong 

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED. - Council candidate Arthur De Jong
  • Photo submitted.
  • Council candidate Arthur De Jong

Arthur De Jong has lived in Whistler for nearly four decades, starting out as a teenager with Blackcomb Ski Patrol and working his way up the ranks.

Over the years De Jong has held roles as patrol director and mountain operations manager, and currently serves as senior manager of mountain planning and environmental resource management with Whistler Blackcomb.

His current passion for sustainability stems from a significant fuel spill on Blackcomb Mountain in 1993.

"It changed my life, because I recognized that there was so many shortfalls in our stewardship," De Jong said.

Since then, De Jong has committed fully to making the mountain's operations sustainable, spearheading initiatives and programs that have collected more than 30 awards at the national and international levels for environmental and social performance.

Unsurprisingly, De Jong lists the environment as one of three main pillars in his campaign. It's a broad issue he views through the "five Ws:" water, weather, wildfire, wilderness and waste.

"We have to make sure that we have a reliable long-term supply of water. We saw some pressures this summer ... (and) the weather is changing here in terms of climate change, and we need to do more to drop our carbon footprint," he said.

But De Jong's greatest concern is wildfire.

"The greatest threat of catastrophe in this valley is wildfire," he said. "The community and the RMOW are doing a lot. We do need to do a lot more."

Another pillar of De Jong's campaign is the economy, and being an advocate for Whistler's businesses.

"I'm not an advocate of 'grow more.' I'm very much an advocate of how do we manage our present infrastructure in a way that the experience for everyone is better," he said, adding that the next council also has to be cognizant of the cyclical nature of Whistler's economy.

"Are we ready for that as well? And that's not to stop these growth issues. We need to get on them and improve our current situation, but with a very flexible platform where we recognize what we see today may not necessarily be the same tomorrow."

But the most important pillar of De Jong's campaign is a focus on community.

"Whistler would not be Whistler without the community, and now we're at a crossroads in terms of growth and affordability, and I feel that I can help resolve some of the challenges that we now see," he said.

Though all solutions are on the table, De Jong said he supports building more housing in Cheakamus, working to support infill in certain areas, rezoning opportunities where applicable, and more.

"But also, I do not want to tag the community with debt, and it's hard to make the numbers work financially, so how do we do that?" he said.

De Jong had initially thrown his name in the ring for the 2014 election, before dropping out after Whistler Blackcomb's internal counsel indicated potential conflicts of interests with respect to his knowledge of internal information.

But new employer Vail Resorts has given De Jong the go ahead to run.

"I am not here in this role to represent Vail (Resorts). I'm here to represent the community," he said.

"I'm really eyeing certain candidates and hoping that I have the privilege to serve with them, because we need a team, we need a high level of cohesion and common vision or we don't get the job done."

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