It’s Employee Recognition Week in Whistler, which culminates tonight with the annual Employee Recognition Dinner. The program, administered by the Chamber of Commerce, is one of Whistler’s better moves. It was started some years ago to recognize the importance of so-called front-line employees to the success of a service-based economy. Looking at it from the vantage point of hindsight, it would seem incredible if a wealthy, successful resort like Whistler didn’t have some sort of program to recognize employees, but do one week and one dinner really do it? While the employee recognition dinner has been going on for years, employee housing has been given short shift for almost as many years. That’s history now; there are a number of employee housing projects coming on stream this year, including the in-fill housing at Gondola 7, Whistler Mountain’s employee housing project at Twin Lakes, which was given third reading by council this week, and the Barnfield Farm project, which will go to public hearing early next month. Other employee housing projects are also in the works. Housing may be the most significant sign of employee recognition that employers — and the rest of the community — can give in Whistler. It’s somewhat ironic, given that Whistler is one of the most free-enterprise, make-your-own-fortune kind of towns in Canada, that below-market housing is required. But that vary free-enterprise spirit, and the fact that so many Whistler employers worked their way up from employee positions with little help from anyone else, may be part of the reason it has taken so long for a substantial supply of employee housing to be developed. The employee housing situation is getting better, slowly, but so is the level of support for employees. Part of that is a function of the increasing level of services in town. But many of the larger employers also provide social/support groups that help employees find their way in the community, a service that is especially important for younger employees in their first jobs away from home. Whistler is becoming a more diverse, better town to be an employee in. It is becoming that way because of its overall success, which is due to both employers and employees. That is what is being recognized tonight.

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