monitoring 

Having input into Whistler's future Whistler residents will get a chance to start charting the future of the community as canvassers from the municipality begin knocking on doors this weekend, surveys in hand. The Resort Municipality of Whistler is budgeting about $80,000 this year to carry the community into its second year of a local monitoring program designed to gather input about the people of Whistler, for the people of Whistler, to help plan the future of Whistler. According to Mike Vance, director of planning with the Resort Municipality of Whistler, 1995 is going to be an important year in the fledgling monitoring program as municipal staff will be talking directly to Whistler residents about their likes, dislikes, needs and wishes. "This is a really good chance for the community to have impact on the formation of municipal policy," Vance says. "We have a really good handle on what's here, now we have to get some feedback about direction." Whistler's first Community and Resort Monitoring Report was tabled last fall at a Town Hall meeting at the Chateau Whistler. The standing room only crowd listened and watched intently as the data was displayed and explained. Questions from the floor criticised the report for being too vague, missing important information and falling short of local expectations. According to Kim Needham, a municipal planning researcher who gathered most of the data for the first monitoring report, the second year of the program is designed to answer many of the questions raised at the first Town Hall meeting. The first monitoring report was put together in six months. This time, Needham says they will be able to gather qualitative, relevant data over a full year. "While we were working on the first report it was overwhelming the amount of data that was available, but it became evident significant gaps existed," Needham says. "Those gaps were what people who came to the meeting pointed out." The information gaps targeted for 1995 are: air quality monitoring, water quality monitoring, fish and wildlife monitoring, affordable housing, and a municipal statistical/demographic study. Needham says municipal canvassers will be out throughout the month of March, knocking on doors and getting Whistler residents to fill out three surveys — a statistical survey for residents, a survey for resident homeowners and finally a community satisfaction survey. The resident and second homeowner surveys will allow municipal planners to get their hands on some solid, locally-based information that they have not been able to find anywhere else. For the first report Needham culled most of the hard data from the 1991 federal census, a document no longer relevant in the rapidly-growing Whistler Valley. "This will allow us to accurately gather information on what the real population in Whistler is during the peak season," Needham says. "We want to be able to find out how many people are boarding, how many are renting and how many non-related people are sharing homes." This will give the municipality the first accurate snapshot of how many people actually reside in Whistler in the winter. The data on second homeowners in Whistler has never been gathered and it will provide a useful tool in determining the number of homes available for rent and the impact second homeowners have on community facilities, such as the pool and the arena. The community satisfaction survey will allow people to tell planners what they like about Whistler, what they dislike and what they would change. "This is really a prime opportunity for the community to provide us with a snapshot of what they think Whistler is and we can take this information and report back to them at the next Town Hall meeting," Vance says.

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