One of the most encouraging things about this year’s municipal elections is the number of people, particularly younger people, who have shown an interest in Whistler and decided to run for office. It has been said, by others, that one of the scariest things about this year’s municipal elections is some of the people who are running for office. The large number of candidates suggests there’s a great deal of dissatisfaction with the current council. But comments from some of the challengers indicate they don’t know much more than that they disagree with many of the decisions made in the last three years. Unlike 1996, when there was a lot of discussion about larger issues such as maintaining the bed unit cap, employee housing and what was being done with the housing fund, this time around the issues, for many, seem to be much simpler: they are against pay parking, the current council didn’t listen to neighbourhood concerns about employee housing projects and objections to the Emerald Forest deal, the Emerald Sewer is too expensive, and people should have the right to rent their homes to others, at least once in a while. There’s nothing wrong with any of those arguments, and if voters decide to reject the incumbents the new council can go to work on all of those matters. But it seems to me they will have a lot more on their plates than reversing some of the past decisions and protecting the status quo. Keeping the municipality afloat financially might be one priority. With buildout in sight and development charges drying up, how do you continue to provide services and infrastructure for one of the fastest growing towns in Canada? The fact that same town also happens to have been the most successful mountain resort in North America last winter adds to the problem, on the one hand, but all those visitors could also could be part of the solution. It’s a complex issue that’s not completely answerable in sound bites or even longer interviews, but few candidates have even broached the subject. And despite all the interest in local politics, the candidates for Whistler’s two school trustee positions were acclaimed. This at a time when parents of Myrtle Philip school students are having to buy text books because of budget shortfalls. Where the budget problem lies is a matter of some debate, but school-related issues are huge for Whistler, yet there was barely enough interest to fill the two school trustee positions and there has been no discussion of school issues from the candidates. There has also been a lot of incorrect information and incorrect assumptions circulating about decisions that have and haven’t been made in the last three years. Pay parking, for instance, has not been adopted as policy. It likely will be, depending on the make-up of the next council, but when it will be implemented, in what parking lots and whether there will be discounts or free periods for "locals" are all still up for discussion. And pay parking is just one component of the transportation strategy which has yet to be adopted by council. And the $51 million in reserves the municipality has is invested in various accounts; it’s not stuffed in a mattress somewhere. The sewage treatment plant? Yes it stinks at times but it was designed to handle more sewage than 52,500 bed units produce, considerably more. An understanding and awareness of some of the basic facts about the municipality should be a prerequisite for a candidate before he or she asks for your vote.

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