Top athlete joins race to be Whistler’s mayor 

Paralympic medallist Stacy Kohut wants to see a clearer vision for Whistler’s future

Racing is nothing new to one of Canada’s best and toughest athletes.

But with the announcement this week that Stacy Kohut would enter the race to be Whistler’s mayor the course of his life has taken a different turn.

"I am excited because I represent a lot of other people like me," said 35-year-old Kohut, who has called the resort home since 2002.

"We know why we are here, we know our roles in the service industry, and we know the chances of us owning our own home in the community is very small.

"But we still want to be here, we still want to participate in this lifestyle and we still want to raise families in this community. I think it is time for someone like myself, a Generation X’er, to stand up and say, ‘Hello. Guess what? For the most part it is we, the front-line soldiers, who are actually making this community work.’

"We are making this work, and if we are still jazzed up about this town then how come everyone else can’t be?

"I want to bring the jazz back."

Kohut, a Paralympic medallist in sit skiing, a fearless four-wheeled mountain biker, and on staff at Nesters Market, said he was shocked when he came to Whistler from Banff and found the community struggling with its own identity. To him it seemed as if the town could not decide where to place its marketing focus: with youth, the 18 to 35 year-olds, or with families. Without a clear market Kohut believes the resort is failing to capitalize on its success.

As mayor he would like to go to the community and ask them where it wants to focus its energy.

"There needs to be a vote out to the community," said Kohut, who worked on the Banff Advisory Council while resident there.

"I think we need to be very honest with ourselves and say what is our product. How do we sustain the physical infrastructure that we have built here so far? We have to keep those hotel rooms full, we have to keep people coming back and we’ve got to keep people recognizing that we are authentically hip and ready to connect with youth culture."

To Kohut, it is critical that the resort is authentic. He believes travellers are too sophisticated now to accept anything less. So he has a big problem when events come to the village promoting for example, youth culture, where bikini-clad women celebrate liquor and beer, but at the same time offer family events side by side.

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