Thanks for the memories 

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO
  • File photo

I've been a bit nostalgic in the last few weeks.

I've been thinking about how long it's been since I saw snow banks this size in the resort. Yes, this much snow can be challenging for neighbourhod driving, parking and just plain navigating our busy highway—but still, you have to admit that it's really awesome!

Kids can head out to the backyard and build jumps, snow caves and even homemade luge tracks (yes, all of these are risky but can we just relish the fun of these snow adventures for a moment instead of being caught up in correctness).

On a couple of the big snowfall nights, you could hear a snowmobile or two around the local streets as neighbours visited on tracks instead of tires. People cross-country skied into the village. Somehow, it all harkened back to earlier days.

This week nine years ago, Whistler was wrapped up in the spectacle of the Winter Olympic Games hosted here and in Vancouver. Those Games gave us the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood, Whistler Olympic Park and trails, the PassivHaus at Lost Lake Park, the Whistler Sliding Centre, the upgraded highway, a tangible sense of pride, and so much more.

Of course, there are many who believe hosting an Olympics is a massive waste of money, and building facilities all over the world is not sustainable—I would not disagree, in principle. However, I have to admit that the many weeks I spent writing about Games' events in February and March (Paralympics) were some of the most fun I had in my reporting career.

Now almost a decade later, Whistler and Sea to Sky kids are on the Olympic stage themselves having grown up in a community with facilities to train on.

Who remembers bundling up to watch Canada in the men's and women's hockey finals at the Olympic Plaza on the big screen?

Wandering the Hometown Hockey village this past weekend at the plaza—with all the white and red and so many people sporting their Olympic mittens—just sparked that whole vibe once again, and reminded us what it means to live in Canada, in a destination that knows how to celebrate events on a world stage.

Many of us think of Whistler as home, a community where we help each other, raise our kids, support our friends in their businesses, protect our environment and have fun.

But we can't forget that Whistler, the ski resort, was built on an Olympic dream. From the day Whistler Mountain started operations on Jan. 15, 1966, we were grasping for those rings and the world stage it would put us on.

The Garibaldi Olympic Development Association made four separate bids for the Olympics. In 1968, Vancouver/Garibaldi won the Canadian nomination for the 1976 Games, but when Montreal was awarded the Summer Games for that same year, Whistler's Olympic dream was lost—until 2010.

Next year will mark a decade since we hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

As we consider that milestone, it's a good time to ponder what the intervening years have brought to us—ups and downs for sure, but also a maturation as a resort.

In the last few years, we have seen some "unintended consequences" of our success felt in a housing crunch, seemingly endless bumper-to-bumper highway traffic and a general feeling of being overcrowded in the environment.

We are perhaps at a sort of crossroads—close to build-out of our community plan and close to having had enough of the issues associated with success (one hesitates to say that as so many places would do anything to be in our shoes).

Perhaps the focus as we move forward should be on consolidating what makes Whistler the success it is. Perhaps we need to step away from a continual push to be "faster, higher, stronger" and consider instead reaching out to be welcoming, successful, and sustainable.


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