Maxed Out 

Anatomy of Change – Part I

by G.D. Maxwell

The good news is we can head into next November’s election with a clean slate and an open field. The bad news is this most lacklustre three-year term of the mayor and council show will sputter to an end like a cheap candle, dripping wax all over our new tablecloth, not throwing off enough light to distinguish steak from gristle, not doing the job we hoped it would.

C’est la vie. It’s only our future we’re messin’ around with.

Since the mayor has chosen to throw us all a curve, I’ll toss one of my own back. Curves – of the graphical nature – can be easy ways to explain difficult concepts. My very favourite, the marginal cost-marginal revenue curve, can in fact explain just about every decision we make, even the mayor’s decision to chuck it all to sell condos in Hawaii. But that’s a different curve.

This week’s curve is the lifecycle curve. In form it looks a great deal like the learning curve, the new love curve, the useful life of the new employee curve or any of a number of useful concepts. It starts, as all things do, from nothing, gains altitude slowly at first than shoots up quite quickly. Eventually, like a plane, it runs out of power and levels off. What happens after that? One of three things.

But I’m running ahead of myself. Let’s illustrate the workings of the lifecycle curve with two real life examples: Whistler and women’s thong underwear. In the beginning, there was nothing. Well, in the case of Whistler there was an idea and a garbage dump. In the case of thongs, there were bikini briefs.

Whistler rose from the ground because a handful of people grabbed onto the idea of building a ski resort to host the Olympics and ski somewhere better than Grouse. Thongs emerged as the ultimate answer to the dreaded visible panty line.

It took Whistler a long time to get off its X axis. It was barely flying off the ground during the Creekside years and damn near crashed as the village was being built, Blackcomb was opening and interest rates soared above 20 per cent. The thong, on the other hand, languished for an indeterminate period as seductive, recreational underwear.

Whistler’s curve began to climb rapidly in the later 1980s as the village was more or less finished, both mountains competed against each other to upgrade their offering and the world began to take notice of the little resort that could. The climb steepened in the early 1990s as accolade after accolade was heaped on Whistler and condos sold like hotcakes.

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