Pique N' Your Interest 

No time to talk

You can’t keep a secret in this town. Just ask council.

As they work away on backroom deals, word inevitably leaks out in the community until soon enough everyone is talking about the issue publicly except for council, who are more often than not still sworn to secrecy.

Take the whistler.com deal as one example. As they worked out the details at muni hall, the nuances, the legal wranglings, the rest of us speculated about this hush-hush deal. By the time they issued the press release it was old news. Those who didn’t know about it by then probably couldn’t care less about it anyway.

Same thing with the Rainbow housing deal. As the developer made presentations to community groups, feeling out the support for the deal, council was told to keep mum. These were sensitive land negotiations after all.

And once again, last week with the announcement that Jim Godfrey was moving sideways in the organization from municipal administrator to executive director of the 2010 Games, the municipality was not ready to release the news as the community gobbled it all down and rumours ran rife.

The municipality would have preferred to release the news in an upbeat controlled way, with all the proper spin. But the community beat them to it with their wagging tongues.

It’s the nature of the beast living in a small town. People talk. You’d think there was nothing else to do in Whistler but gossip, speculate, and complain about the wheelings and dealings at muni hall.

In some ways, it’s exciting that people in this community care so much. They come out to talk at Dialogue Forums and share their two cents on any given topic. They take part in the task force groups which make up Whistler 2020, the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan. They ask questions, sometimes, of their local government at the public question and answer period. They are informed. They are passionate. They are on the ball.

Which is why it’s a little upsetting that this year the municipality is releasing the 2005 budget and giving the community only five days to read the 200-page document.

Don’t we deserve a little more time to digest it?

As someone who’s gone to her fair share of open houses and council meetings, I know that many times people don’t care, they don’t show up, they don’t participate. And every three years, as municipal elections approach, council is accused of not being transparent and not engaging the community. How frustrating.

But then they go and pull something like this, releasing the budget on Thursday, April 21 and asking for public comment by Tuesday, April 26.

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