Editorial 

A disturbing silence

According to the McIntyre & Mustel Research Ltd. survey commissioned by the municipality and presented to council Monday (the one which found 93 per cent of permanent Whistler residents and 95 per cent of Whistler business owners/managers read Pique Newsmagazine ), people are still concerned about community involvement in the 2010 Olympic bid.

But then Whistler being Whistler, fewer than a dozen members of the public showed up at municipal hall Tuesday night to take advantage of an opportunity to bend councillors’ ears about community involvement in the Olympics, employee housing, or anything else.

The cookies and coffee session with council members was an attempt to improve communications with the public in the wake of recent criticism, some of it coming from this space. Not that Whistler council members are inaccessible or hard to find. You run into them in the grocery stores and their businesses, and their phone numbers are all listed in the phone book, if anyone wants to take the time to talk to them. Perhaps lots of people take advantage of these opportunities and therefore skipped the Tuesday night session. Perhaps Whistlerites just find it easier to raise concerns when they are presented as a list in a survey, or maybe a Tuesday night in June isn’t a convenient time to trudge down to municipal hall. Regardless, the turnout for the open house probably wasn’t enough to justify the cost of advertising for it.

The Olympic bid, of course, is an ongoing, evolving issue and because of that there are few final answers to many of the questions and concerns people have. Part of the reason for the McIntyre & Mustel survey, in addition to gauging support for the bid, was to help determine how best to communicate information about the bid to the public when it becomes available.

And for the record, approximately seven out of 10 people surveyed supported the guiding principles the municipality has adopted for the bid. The top three Olympic legacies identified by the 453 people surveyed were 1) transportation improvements, 2) an international sports centre, 3) strengthened community spirit. However, as Councillor Nick Davies pointed out, a final list of legacies Whistler would like to see from the Olympics has not been set.

The Olympic bid, of course, is not the only significant issue before council.

The business community recently showed up en masse at municipal hall to deliver a message about the need for employee housing, which was part of what sparked the Tuesday night open house. But on Monday there were no speakers for or against the B.C. Rail lands rezoning proposal, which involves more than 500 acres on the west side of Alta Lake. It’s a good proposal – much, much better than what is allowed under the present zoning – and it’s been in the news for some time, so maybe there was no reason for concern. But given the reaction to some much smaller development projects, one would have expected at least a few comments on the B.C. Rail lands rezoning.

As Maxwell has written on the back page, sometimes Whistler is the pathetic in apathetic.

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