Michael d’Artois adds name to council race 

Hopes to use position to strengthen community

Michael d’Artois has been a resident of Whistler for more than 30 years, and almost from the beginning he has made an effort to be engaged in the community.

He has volunteered his time on countless boards, committees and advisory groups, serving as a parent, a businessman, and booster for Whistler, but he has never run for council – "One of the few things I haven’t done," he said.

His main reason has always been time. With his own growing real estate business, a young family, and positions of responsibility within various organizations, he knew he couldn’t commit the time and energy necessary to be a councillor.

That is, until now. D’Artois recently sold his business, and his kids are older – two out of three are in high school, and the other is going next year. He’s still involved with various organizations, but says he now has the time to dedicate to council.

The fact that 2005-08 is an important term for council is not lost on d’Artois, but his approach to governing would be the same now as it would have been two decades ago – that the needs of the community come first.

"It’s mostly timing," he said. "There are compelling issues now, but there has never not been compelling issues for Whistler, which is why we have such a great community. That’s why people have made the choice to be here, and that’s why we have such engagement in the community."

He is concerned with the current economic climate in Whistler, and issues like the Paralympic arena, staff housing, the future of Lot 1/Lot 9, the ongoing condo-hotel tax classification battle, high commercial rents and taxes, and preserving Whistler’s remaining valley bottom, among a long list of other things.

The key to finding a solution, he says, is to understand how all of these issues are connected – or should be connected if council is committed to creating solutions that benefit the community.

"We have to be creative with our ideas," he said.

"I’ve lived here over 30 years, I love Whistler, people know I love and care for the community, and in my mind we absolutely are a community first. And when the resort works the community can be the winner. We are already a winner, but there are always new challenges.

"Developers and landlords want to be here, and Whistler council has the power to make important decision in such a way that they come out as a win-win for everybody."

One example d’Artois gives is the application to rezone13,000 square feet of space from recreational to commercial, allowing London Drugs to build an outlet in Whistler. One solution would be to allow the rezoning, but to require that a portion of the rent go towards recreation to compensate the community – such as funding a Paralympic ice rink or another facility on Lot 1/Lot 9. The landlord could also be required to sell off a number of its retail locations, which will give more certainty to small business.

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