Whistler: A time for action, of some kind 

Even without the input of the voters, this next election will bring a big shake up at municipal hall.

Two members of the current council, including the mayor, are out of the race altogether. Three more are vying for the mayor’s spot, along with other outside candidates. That leaves only two councillors to try and win their seats back. Amid all this uncertainty one thing is for sure – change is on the way.

Many voters are hoping the fractured council of the last three years, the council that overtly struggled to work cohesively as a team and failed to deliver some of its key mandates, such as employee housing, is a thing of the past.

They are looking for strong leadership – a group of seven that can help Whistler out of its current economic woes, bring back some vitality and excitement to a town feeling a little sorry for itself and set the stage for the biggest event in its history, the 2010 Olympic Games.

No one believes it’s an easy task.

"In a way I pity the council," said local parent Cathy Jewett. "It’s like being on a whitewater raft ride – everything’s been happening so fast and you’ve been going through absolutely crazy class 4 rapids and all of a sudden you get to a place where it just slows right down, to where you’ve got to get your oars in the river and start paddling."

The question is: what direction are we paddling in and are we all heading in the same direction?

In some ways Whistler has taken its success for granted, it has come so easy. Throughout the boom years of the ’90s, development was fast and furious and business was flush. Whistler was the "it" spot in ski and snowboard magazines and there was a contagious buzz around town.

But in recent years the buzz has fizzled out.

"Business (throughout Whistler) is down for the fourth year," said Scott Carrell, who owns Affinity Sports. "I don’t think anybody’s having any fun."

Carrell has lived here for 28 years. He remembers when Whistler strived to become the number one resort in North America. He also remembers that when Whistler reached that goal it failed to set a new goal.

While the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan, Whistler’s new visioning document which took three years to complete and cost more than a million dollars, is a worthwhile document, said Carrell, it doesn’t have any economic legs.

The new council must develop a new common vision and goal to help kickstart the economy. Then they must unify the community around this goal.

Carrell has his own idea of what that goal should be.

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