Maxed Out 

Do you care, Whistler?

By G.D. Maxwell

When I used to consult with clients who were struggling to keep their businesses solvent or were stuck in the minefield of transition from small, entrepreneurial companies to larger, professionally managed ones, I’d always ask them the same question to get things started. "What business are you in?"

It was surprising how often they got the answer wrong. Some weren’t sure, some had defined their enterprise too narrowly, some too broadly, and some had just grown so fast they’d never really gotten a handle on exactly what they were doing.

Managing transitions well is a large part of what success is all about. This is true in your personal life – jobs to careers, single to married, childless to parental – in the lives of businesses and even in the lives of towns and their variants, Resort Municipalities.

We, as in Whistler, are at the crossroads. We are changing tempo, moving from go-go growth to sustainable maturity. Our voices are cracking and we’re sprouting hair in the most unusual places. We have entered the dreaded adolescent zone.

As adolescents, we make stupid mistakes; it comes with the territory. They don’t seem stupid at the time but assuming survival to adulthood, we often look back on them and shudder at what might have gone wrong.

Whistler is in the process of making a stupid mistake. By Whistler, I mean specifically the mayor and half the sitting council. In their quest to attract more conference business, they’re about to let the conference tail wag the ski resort dog. They’re inviting the World Economic Forum to hold their annual meeting in Whistler. And they’re doing it in secret. Behind closed doors. Without public consultation. A backroom deal to end all backroom deals.

They oughta be ashamed.

Since last May, talks have been going on between our elected leaders, members of the WEF, representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office and the provincial government, and selected business leaders of our happy mountain home.

The talks have been kept secret. I guess this is a new variant of transparent, open government our councillors promised us at the last election. They were secret because the WEF’s Toronto lawyer wanted them kept hush-hush. He, that is to say the WEF, were being sensitive to the Swiss’ feelings. The WEF didn’t want the Swiss – the WEF annual meetings have been held at Davos since their beginning in 1971 – to know they were on the prowl for a prettier dance partner, one with better hotels and restaurants.

So the meetings weren’t open to the public and weren’t discussed in public. If you asked anyone about them, you’d get stonewalled.


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