Whistler launches journey into future 

Whistler has launched a journey, in the midst of a sea of lime green promotional T-shirts, that marks the first leg of its sustainability trip.

This time the resort will travel about 10 to 15 years into the future, making plans and developing policies to ensure Whistler stays a thriving, sustainable place to live and work.

"I hope you understand the importance of saving the environment for future generations," said 10-year-old Austin Thind at the launch of Whistler. It's Our Future.

About 150 community members, including Mr. Reimer's Grade 5-6 class, gathered under a tent at the play area near Market Square on Wednesday, June 12 to hear about Whistler's new comprehensive sustainability plan and about how they can all get involved.

"We all have a responsibility here," said Jim Godfrey, municipal administrator.

Whistler. It's Our Future will replace the current Whistler 2002 document as well as the Comprehensive Development Plan, and will become the main document outlining how the community addresses the future in a sustainable manner.

Long-time Whistler resident Cathy Jewett, who spoke at the launch, said sustainability is the word of the millennium and it means different things to different people.

She defined sustainability as "the ability of all living things in this valley to continue to thrive."

This document is designed to allow the resort to thrive and balance the economic, environmental and social needs of the community.

Whistler. It's Our Future will develop over the course of four stages, the first of which is taking place over the summer months and will give the public an opportunity to voice ideas and opinions.

"It's a place to start and work and we designed new ways for the public to get involved," said Mayor Hugh O'Reilly, sporting his Whistler. It's Our Future T-shirt.

Some of the ways to get involved and get information are:

• A Whistler. It's Our Future Resource Centre, which offers information on the complete process. Staff will be on hand to answer any questions. The centre will be open from noon to 7 p.m. except on Sunday and is located at #106 - 4338 Main Street, within the Tyndall Stone Lodge;

• Two discussion papers that will appear in Pique Newsmagazine – the first paper on the criteria that defines a successful destination resort community will appear on July 5 and the second paper is on the criteria for becoming a sustainable destination resort community, appearing July 12;

• Three interactive community workshops to talk about the criteria and add you own two cents – the first workshop will take place on Thursday, July 18.

In addition there will be home, work and online discussion groups, providing ample opportunity for community feedback.

Younger and older community members attended the launch but there was a noticeable gap in the twenty-something group, as highlighted by Jewett.

"We have to figure out a way to pull in the sandwich generation," said the senior ski patroller who has lived in Whistler for the past 25 years.

Whistler-Blackcomb has also been pulled into the foray now and is committed to be fully engaged participants.

Senior leadership at Whistler-Blackcomb will be involved in the process as much as they can and will encourage the same kind of participation from their staff.

This is a shift in direction for the mountain.

"I think we made a mistake by not being at the table in greater numbers (for Whistler 2002)," said Doug Forseth, senior vice president, operations.

"Now that we've seen that, I can tell you that we're very prepared (to participate)."

Written at the end of the nineties, Whistler 2002 only envisioned a couple years in to the future and documented that vision and the resort values at the time.

It has become a guiding tool.

"I don't know that anyone understood how powerful that document would be," said O'Reilly.

Now, a new comprehensive sustainability plan will take its place and build on the work that has already been done to date.

Following Phase 1, which will be completed by the end of September, the resort will go on to complete three more phases.

Phase 2 will develop future scenarios based on the information that was gathered over the summer.

Phase 3 will identify the preferred scenario, and develop guidelines and principles.

Phase 4 will implement the strategy. That stage is set to begin in the new year.

For more information check out www.whistlerfuture.com

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