November 04, 2005 Features & Images » Feature Story

Nancy Wilhelm-Morden 

‘An important time for Whistler’

Name: Nancy Wilhelm-Morden

Age: 50

Occupation: Lawyer

Last book read: Until I Find You by John Irving and Paris 1919 by Richard Holbrooke and Margaret MacMillan

Music: Les Choristes, soundtrack from a French movie of the same name; Leonard Cohen, Songs from a Room; and Johnny Cash, Greatest Hits.

Recreational pursuits: Skiing, gardening, running and golf… if I have to!

1. Why are you running for council?

I very much believe in community service, that’s something my parents taught me while I was growing up. Every time I’ve run before I’ve always said "it’s an important time for Whistler" and in years gone by it was an important time. But it’s an important time this time, particularly with the run up to the Olympics. I think that I have the skill set where I could serve the community these days – (skills such as) my past experience on council, my skills as a lawyer, and my long experience as a Whistler resident since 1973, and also just being a mom and raising kids in the community.

2. What are the biggest issues facing Whistler?

First one is the run up to the Olympics. We will be under tremendous pressure from all sides and we need people who can make tough decisions. We need to resolve the issue about financial tools and boundary expansion with Victoria. That should have been done as a condition to approving the Olympics but we missed that opportunity and now we’re playing catch up. And we need to engage the community with the whole idea of hosting the Olympics.

Another very important issue, of course, is the continuing viability of the community and that includes the issues of the economy, the health of small business, affordable housing and some of the various zoning issues that are on the table right now.

There are also internal administrative issues that have to be dealt with… I think that bringing different opinions and having debate at the council table is a good and a healthy thing but then you have to make the decision and move on. In the past it appears that differing opinions have frozen council and we want to make sure that that doesn’t happen.

… And then of course we’ve got the (CUPE) labour dispute internally and that’s got to be dealt with.

3. What needs to be done to address these issues?

We have to settle our issues with Victoria about financial tools and boundary expansions.

There should be, and I see that it’s started, but there’s got to be regular reporting to council and the community about where we’re at with the preparation for the Olympics. We need to work with VANOC to develop and implement a plan for community engagement.

Concerning the economy and the health of small business in particular, I think we can look at our property tax structure with small business. I think we can also facilitate discussions between small business owners and commercial landlords in the village because I think realistic lease rates are an issue and I think we have to more carefully consider the impact any zoning approvals may have on small business.

As for affordable housing, again we have to continue to look for opportunities to obtain affordable housing but not at any price. Just because a zoning proposal comes with affordable housing attached, doesn’t mean it gets an automatic approval.

(As for) the internal administrative issues, we’ve got to settle the strike. We have to work moving forward with the new administrator and let’s set some basic rules at the council table about debate and decision-making.

4. How will Whistler 2020 help us?

There’s been a tremendous amount of time and effort and money gone into the preparation of that document and I think it’s a good document… The community’s goals are clearly identified and the strategies and the actions are detailed. Of course, the proof is in the pudding. If it’s not implemented, if it just sits on a shelf gathering dust, then that’s a problem so (it must) be considered every time we make a decision.

5. Three things you expect to accomplish in this council’s term?

There seems to be a lot of fractiousness in the community these days. I hope at the end of three years the herd has been engaged so that we’re all moving in relatively the same direction.

I think we have to have the table set for the Olympics without compromising the community.

And I just hope we don’t make any dumb decisions… The issues come and go but the council stays there for three years… It’s critical that the people with the appropriate skill sets are chosen.

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