Council committees making a comeback 

Mayor sticks to platform of transparency and accountability

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ALISON TAYLOR - More accountability Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden is resurrecting the committees system for the resort.
  • Photo by Alison Taylor
  • More accountability Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden is resurrecting the committees system for the resort.

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On the other hand, council just created a new task force with a project manager for its learning and education planning process.

For Doug Player, the driving force behind the proposed Whistler International Campus, there's a worry about timeline with the added layer of consultation, as time ticks on his multi-million dollar development proposal.

"We don't have a real problem with the fact that they're going to go through this process," said Player. "We believe in public engagement. We've been doing it for six years now. So I don't have an issue with that. I just have an issue with the timeline now."

The education task force members will be announced in the coming weeks.

"This isn't an attempt to bureaucratize the process," reiterated the mayor.

Rather, it's a way to engage, seek community feedback, gauge the tempo in town.

Now, more than ever before, council is looking for community input on how it should spend its money — specifically its festivals and events money and its $6 million-plus Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) money.

The new RMI committee has now morphed into the Economic Partnership Initiative committee, which is tasked with setting up an economic game plan for the resort as a whole.

Committee member and Whistler Blackcomb's president and chief operating office Dave Brownlie praised the spirit of collaboration.

"I certainly see pretty open and robust dialogue ultimately happening out there," he said. "I see a lot of openness to different ideas and change and I think that's a good thing. The players in a lot of ways haven't changed but everybody's coming to the table with an openness and willingness to look at new things differently to move them forward. I see a lot more momentum where discussions are additive versus it's easy to find what the challenges are, but how do we as a community find solutions?"

But what happens when a committee comes back with a recommendation that doesn't suit?

Just last week transit management committee member Bill Murray spoke out at a public hearing to rezone the transit facility, highlighting the committee's concerns about the rezoning. It, said Murray, was not supportive of the move because there were still unanswered questions on the business case.

The mayor said she does not take those concerns lightly.

"As far as I'm concerned, I look at recommendations from committees very closely, very seriously," she said.

That said, committee feedback is just one part of a series of factors that are at play; not all are given the same weight.

And ultimately the buck stops with council.

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