Zeidler wants to keep town on path 

Timing important for well-known environmentalist seeking council seat

Eckhard Zeidler believes Whistler is at a crucial time in its green development and he wants to help make sure the resort community stays on the right path.

"I decided to throw my hat into the ring because I feel the considerable (environmental) work that we have done in this community over the last few years, and the way the Olympics are moving toward a more sustainable future, are important issues, so important that they deserve more than just lip service being paid to them by candidates," he said.

"In council there is six positions and as far as I am concerned there is a green chair there for someone with an environmental and business background and that is the chair I am going after."

Zeidler spent 25 years working in investment banking and energy trading in Canada and Europe before settling in Whistler. A married father of three, he joined AWARE in 1999. Today, when not working at his Z-Point Graphic company, he is leading the campaign to create a legacy wilderness area in the Upper Soo under the umbrella of AWARE.

There are several issues Zeidler feels Whistler must address. Top of the list is growth. If elected he would work to limit growth so that the resort can work on embracing the capacity it has now. That could also help relieve the pressure on council to produce an on-going stream of employee housing.

"What we need to do is sit back and take a breather from (growth) and reassess," he said.

"If we can manage to contain growth not only in hotel rooms but in commercial space, and therefore growth in employees, we can meet the affordable housing needs of all the employees in this resort and it will be something council will not have to deal with all the time.

"It is the reoccurring nightmare that never ends and it can be solved once and for all."

Zeidler also believes there is an urgent need for the municipality to monitor developments on its borders and in surrounding areas. There is opportunity for Whistler to have input but council must be aware of them. Most are developments Zeidler is intimately aware of.

"I don’t know that any of the candidates for council or for mayor have any level of knowledge of what those initiatives are or what the dynamics are and the kinds of negotiations that have to take place with the province, with First Nations and with industry. I do," he said.

Zeidler also brings to the table a business view of green development.

"When I approach sustainability and conservation I approach it from a business perspective having been an investment banker for 25 years," he said.

"I look at all these opportunities and initiatives and weigh them through the economic opportunity, medium and long term, that they present.

"Protecting the green spaces in and around Whistler and our regions is not only the right thing to do, it makes tremendous business sense; it is an investment opportunity."

As a councillor he plans to pursue the establishment of the Whistler Centre for Sustainability.

"It is an unbelievably cool idea," he said.

The idea would be to draw top business people from around the world to the resort to learn how to make their corporations and businesses sustainable.

"In many ways it could be a key component of the future of business in Whistler," said Zeidler.

"Governments and corporation have already learned that there is a need for them to move to more sustainable practices and the opportunities of where they go and how they can learn more is kind of limited."

Zeidler, long a watchdog of the Olympics, also hopes as a councillor to keep Games organizers on track with their sustainability goals.

"I want to be able to represent Whistler in seeing that as far as Whistler is concerned those commitments are put into practice.

"I think it is a fantastic opportunity to showcase Whistler, to showcase Whistler’s commitment to sustainability and the environment and to potentially showcase the Whistler Centre for Sustainability to the world."

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