Opening remarks Asking questions and defining who we are In the Gulf Islands, the Napa Valley and other places where people consider their surroundings unique and deserving of careful attention, residents have come together to try and define what it is they value about their little corner of the world. It might be a worthwhile exercise here. The development of the Official Community Plan and Comprehensive Development Plan are steps in that direction. There were certainly lots of opportunities for public input into the documents. There is also some consideration of heritage sites and protection of environmentally sensitive areas within the pages of the OCP and CDP. But the focus of the plans is on how Whistler will develop and setting parameters for that development, rather than looking at what Whistler is. The OCP and CDP are also municipal government documents, prepared and used by municipal staff, rather than by Whistlerites. Establishing a sort of Whistler Trust, driven by the people of Whistler — both full-time and part-time residents — might actually help municipal hall in gauging the mood and feeling of the community, something that might have been of benefit before scheduling a public hearing on the freestyle proposal. It could also help nurture an appreciation for the Whistler Valley. A Whistler Trust, whether it's a document, a set of goals or a state of mind, might not have any legal status, but that's a moot point. If the people of Whistler could hammer out a philosophy, or even some points of common understanding, it could only help developers, politicians and anyone else interested in Whistler. It wouldn't be easy. Trying to get Whistlerites to come to a consensus on the time of day can be difficult. But the exercise of trying to define what it is we value about Whistler can, in itself, be valuable. The Whistler Symposium in 1993 was an attempt to do this, but it was limited in scope, looking primarily at culture and education as second industries. A broader Whistler Trust might establish a list of priorities, such as where the community ranks a library, a museum, a theatre or arts centre and other facilities in terms of desirability. How much and what type of affordable housing is needed and where can it be built? What about development beyond 52,900 bed units? What about development outside the municipal boundaries? There are no simple answers to these questions, but Whistler is still small enough that the residents of the valley can get together to discuss them. And the process of asking and trying to answer these types of questions would also help Whistler establish an identity. It’s not bad being a resort town with a disparate collection of skiers, developers, real estate agents, entrepreneurs, waiters, hoteliers and second-home owners, but there must be some common values that keep us here — what are they? -– Bob Barnett

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