Renowned pollster to speak at Spirit Luncheon 

Renowned pollster to speak at Spirit Luncheon

Angus Reid puts emphasis on people of Whistler

Standing in a Berlin bar recently, Canadian pollster Angus Reid heard the word "Whistler" in the din of surrounding conversation.

Turning around he saw a group of Danes and Germans talking about the resort in a foreign language and it made him think about this place.

"You just realize what a special little gem we have in the world and what we have to do to keep it," he said in an interview from Vancouver this week.

"It’s not just a question of buildings and roads. It’s a question of people."

Reid is speaking at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler on Wednesday, Nov. 20 as a kick off to this year’s Spirit program, which is put on by the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.

For more than 20 years Angus Reid has been taking Canada’s pulse on a wide-range of topics as the founder, chairman and CEO of the Angus Reid Group, a North American marketing and public opinion research company.

When he comes to Whistler next week he’ll be looking at the things that make Whistler the hot topic of conversation, not just in German bars but in places around the world.

"What I really want to focus on at the end of the day is the whole question of the culture of Whistler and how that can be maintained because I think it’s possible to forget about the people factor in Whistler," he said.

"I also want to put my futurist hat on a little bit and draw a little bit of a picture of what Whistler might look like from a sociological perspective in 2015, five years after the supposed Olympics, assuming that we get them."

Specifically Reid is concerned about the housing issue in Whistler because housing represents the even bigger issue of access.

He said it’s important that Whistler not just become an upper class enclave for wealthy Canadians, Americans and Europeans.

He is also concerned about the development of more facilities to attract tourists here on a year-round basis.

Whistler can become a global centre for a number of different kinds of activities beyond skiing and golf, he said.

"I really (want to) draw a bit of a picture of several possible futures that could face Whistler, ranging from the ugly to the somewhat beautiful and try to suggest some of the factors and forces that might make a difference between those several kinds of futures," he said.

He will also spend time on the 2010 Olympic issue, drawing on some of the polling work that has been done in Whistler and in B.C.

Whistler’s future is close to Reid’s heart.

He has been coming here for the past 10 years and owns a chalet in Whistler Cay Heights. A very big part of what makes Whistler special is what Reid calls its "innocence."

"I intend to take a sociological perspective (at the Chamber luncheon talk) to examine how Whistler can face issues like the Olympics, continued growth both in size and overall property values, and at the same time maintain some of the innocence that makes it a special place," he said.

In addition to his PhD., Reid holds two honorary doctorates – one from the University of Manitoba and the other from Simon Fraser University.

He travels the world extensively, working with a wide range of corporations, government agencies and special interest groups.

Two years ago Ipsos SA, a Paris-based company, bought the Angus Reid group in the largest market research acquisition in Canadian history.

Reid now heads up the Centre for Public Opinion and Democracy at the University of British Columbia. The program addresses issues such as global democratization, limits to sovereignty and poverty.

Reid doesn’t see his position at UBC as work, rather "a labour of love."

The luncheon talk at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler is an annual Chamber event for employers taking part in the Spirit program.

The program provides their employees with a discounted ski pass in return for a few hours spent learning more about Whistler and becoming an "ambassador" for the resort.

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