Davies wants to be mayor 

Top priority will be improving resort’s economy

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One hour after Mayor Hugh O’Reilly announced he would not be seeking re-election, Councillor Nick Davies declared he was running for the top job.

"I think the time is ripe for me," said the local lawyer. "Having been on council for two terms, if I am going to run for mayor then this is the time to do it."

Davies is the first person to announce he’ll be running for mayor in the November elections. The timing, making his decision public Wednesday afternoon in the wake of O’Reilly’s emotional announcement, was not a coincidence.

But after weighing his decision carefully Davies felt it was the best time to make his political intentions known.

Top priority in his mayoralty platform is the resort’s economy, which has been in decline for the last four years. For the past several months from his council chair Davies has been talking about kick-starting the economy.

"I think we need a bit of a change of focus," said Davies. "I believe that we as a council have lost our focus on the economic aspect and… there are things that we could be doing and should be doing that we haven’t been doing.

At a recent Tourism Whistler meeting, which gathered the local community together to discuss the state of the economy, Davies suggested they need what he called "shock and awe" tactics to draw guests to the resort. He expanded on some of his ideas this week.

Davies said developing a loyalty card, much like they have in hotels and stores in Las Vegas, could go a long way. The card would recognize the guests that come to Whistler and let them know how much the resort appreciates their business.

Another idea is to send the mayor on sales trips with Tourism Whistler to some of the key markets. Having the mayor enticing guests, letting them know that Whistler wants their business, is the added touch that could go a long way he said.

"That personal touch is powerful," said Davies. "Everybody that walks out of my office, I say to them ‘thank you for your business, I appreciate it.’ And it’s that kind of personal touch that will go a long way.

"It’s symbolic more than anything but it could be very, very effective."

Other key components, said Davies, are creating the position of an economic development officer in the resort. A second part is looking at the possibility of bringing an airport to Whistler, particularly in the Brandywine area.

Davies, who is a pilot, has been championing this particular cause for the last several months, ever since the economic task force for the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan said it could be a crucial part to kick-starting the economy.

Despite Davies pitching the idea at the council table, other council members were not convinced to spend $20,000 on an airport feasibility study. Davies then approached the private sector and ultimately Tourism Whistler and Whistler-Blackcomb decided to jointly fund the study.

"We need to move ahead more effectively with the development of air access, whether through a new airport in Brandywine or developing the existing airport in Pemberton," said Davies.

Davies is the chair of the Whistler Housing Authority and wants to continue to work to deliver employee housing opportunities in Whistler.

He is also the chair of the municipality’s audit and finance committee and serves as a member of several other municipal committees.

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