November 04, 2005 Features & Images » Feature Story

Steve Jiu 

Make sure the Olympics are affordable

Name: Steve Jiu

Age: 32


Occupation: Co owner of Farfalla Hair and Esthetics, Esthetician, DJ, Make-up Artist.

Last book read: Life of Pi, Price Wars.

Music: Country, Hip-Hop, Pop, Techno, Spa & Salon Music

Favourite recreational pursuits: Guitar playing and singing in crowds, skiing, cross country skiing, walking my dog.

1. Why are you running for council?

I am running for council to represent myself and people that want to create Whistler as a success in tourism, affordable housing, and environment.

2. What are the biggest issues facing Whistler?

How much of the Olympics are we willing to pay? The combined population of Richmond, Vancouver, and Whistler is 750,000 where the Olympic venues are held. Whistler consists of 1.3 per cent of the total population, which is 10,000. Olympic costs overall is $2 billion therefore our 1.3 per cent of the budget is $26 million. Taxes will increase because of the cost of the Olympics, forcing people and businesses out of Whistler.

There has been a decline of 19 per cent over the last four years of hotel room nights. We must work together to increase the top industry before taxes are increased. Tourism increases in Whistler, will benefit every sector of the community.

Affordable housing has been an issue in Whistler for decades. This sector of our Tourism Infrastructure has been neglected therefore we decrease our efficiency in our productivity. Various members of our community work more that one job in order to have a successful life in Whistler. These members should be recognized for their efforts and should be given a chance to live in Whistler if they choose.

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

With the Olympics on the horizon we will have to make the cost of the Games more of an issue. We have to realize that a town of 10,000 can't afford the Olympic infrastructure that is being put in place, especially venues that would lose money. Working together on the issues of the cost of the Olympics should be shared on a federal and provincial level. It is important that we do not go into debt because history has its way of repeating itself. Montreal is still paying for the 1976 Olympics.

If a business was in a decline of 19 per cent over the period of four years, it is most likely that the business would not exist. Whistler can't afford another decline in its tourism. An aggressive approach to the industry is needed to take place in order to provide a healthy economy. In order to increase this industry we must support more international, world-class and celebrity events of all kinds. Whistler needs to be more competitive in trade shows and conventions against other locations in North America. This strategy would be partnered with more film and television contracts through a variety of countries. A collective partnership is needed with Vancouver Tourism to have Whistler as a venue for many of their tour and event packages.

Whistler collects more GST and PST than any other 10,000-person town across the country. In order for all levels of government to keep this infrastructure intact, they need to be more involved in affordable housing immediately. We need to take a look into Whistler's future to expect that housing needs for qualified full-time workers will be in the thousand's instead of hundreds.

4. How will Whistler 2020 help us?

Whistler 2020 is a great blueprint of the future. It will help us be more eco-friendly to our environment. I hope one day all of the chairlifts are powered by the wind.  It will be more of an asset and commodity when the plan is recognized internationally.

5. Name three things you would like to accomplish in this council’s term.

I would work together to increase tourism by 15 per cent by the end of 2006. Lobby the federal and provincial governments for support on affordable housing while creating more housing for locals. Take a stance on our Olympic legacy to make sure Whistler does not have an Olympic debt for decades and have Whistler set an example for environmental leadership and responsibility.

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