Maxed Out 

It’s the zoning, stupids

By G.D. Maxwell

Being mostly Canadian, I guess it’s inevitable Whistler is destined to spend an inordinate amount of time pokin’ the ol’ belly button and contemplating the cosmic questions: What makes me different and what do I want to be when I grow up?

It was all so much easier when we were smaller, younger, nowhere near world class and hadn’t sold our soul to the devil for success and fame.

What made us different then was quintessentially Canadian – our geography, the electric mix of homegrown Canadians and more traveled foreigners who became the visionaries behind this experiment, and their harebrained notion they could build a damn fine ski resort at the far end of the country in the middle of a rain forest. It was the sixties; who knew what they were smoking.

That the experiment worked at all is probably the fault of Al Raine and Hugh Smythe. If Al hadn’t been so insistent in nagging the BC government to authorize the building of Blackcomb and Hugh hadn’t done such a good job of building it, Whistler today might be Fernie with a nearby urban population base. Great skiing; nothing special.

But Whistler isn’t Fernie, Whistler isn’t new, Whistler isn’t simple, and as much as some of us might wish otherwise, Whistler isn’t a ski resort anymore.

"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree…."

Coleridge’s Xanadu was a vision in a dream, a fragment of verse fuelled by opium. He never finished what he started because he was never able to returne to the place he started from. Neither can we.

The future is all we have to look forward to; the past is just a millstone around the future’s neck. But is the future of Whistler embodied in the unfortunately named London Drugs?

Having tried to avoid this divisive subject, let me procrastinate further.

Let’s start with a lost premise. This bunfight over London Drugs isn’t about London Drugs. It isn’t about saving trips to the city, it isn’t about enhancing affordability, it isn’t about David versus Goliath, it isn’t about homegrown as opposed to imported, mom & pop as opposed to multinational.

This fight is about a developer trying to unload a white elephant. To a lesser degree, this fight’s about makin’ deals and breakin’ deals.

And make no mistake, this fight is most definitely about the future of Whistler.

When the dust settled and then negotiations were over, Larco, the developer, got permission to fill in the Keg parking lot. Part of the deal was zoning on the underground space for recreational amenities, fun and games.

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