The last Council meeting of the year is a good time to reflect on 2018, and look forward at our plans for 2019, and beyond.
This fall, the municipal election saw the changeover of Mayor and Council. We said goodbye to Nancy Wilhelm-Morden after an incredible 17 years of service as Mayor and Councillor for Whistler as she choose not to rerun.
It is my honour to have moved into the position of Mayor, after seven years as a Councillor. I am proud to be working alongside an experienced and passionate group of Councillors.
Some of the significant work undertaken by the municipality in 2018 included:
- The historic signing of a protocol agreement with the Lil’wat and Squamish Nations formally marking our renewed partnership.
- Cheakamus Crossing Phase 2 was presented to the community as an initiative to provide a significant number of new resident-restricted rentals for the community.
- The continued work of the WHA saw the opening of a new rental building, and two additional rental buildings opening in 2019.
- As a community, we worked on renewing Whistler’s new Official Community Plan (OCP) and community vision. Following thousands of community engagement hours, the OCP and vision are going to final readings and public hearings early in the new year.
- Progress was made on regional transit with plans underway to better connect Whistler and sea to sky communities.
- TAG developed and presented the Whistler Transportation Action plan to lead us from 2018 through to 2022.
It was another successful year for our community’s tourism economy. Summer 2018 is the best on record in terms of room nights sold, and as a community we are fortunate for this year-round tourism success.
In the 2018 Community Life Survey, respondents again listed very high satisfaction with village maintenance of parks, trails and roads, the library services, water utilities, waste management, fire and police services, and transportation.
With economic successes we recognize there are also local pressures. Throughout the process of renewing Whistler’s OCP and community vision, we have seen the themes of community, affordability, and protecting the natural environment, among others, come to the forefront. We are looking forward to representing the needs of the community in our work moving forward.
On December 13 and 14, we held the annual Council retreat. Many things were covered from briefings about the organization’s key work areas and projects, as well as factors affecting the 2019 budget. Council also built its knowledge base and shared ideas about portfolio areas including current projects and considerations.
We reviewed the recent work by the previous council, staff, partners and the community to update the municipality’s vision and OCP. We had good discussions about portfolios and the approach, including how the portfolios would be aligned with the Corporate Plan. Six portfolio areas were identified along with some of the priority areas within them:
- Housing – Clearly understand needs, and plan for short, medium and long-term housing.
- Environment – Address the 5 Ws (weather, wildfire, waste, wilderness, water), focusing most immediately on implementing the CECAP, enhancing transit, and supporting a zero waste committee.
- Arts, Natural History, Traditions and Heritage – Continue to support existing Whistler’s arts, culture and heritage sector, and ongoing focus on relationships with the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation.
- Social Services and Regional Cooperation – Continue to play a strong advocacy role on regional issues, and support our social service providers.
- Community Investment and Fiscal Responsibility – Confirmed a continued focus on fiscal responsibility, ROI and long-term financial planning
- Tourism Economy – Support local businesses and strengthen relationships with key Resort Partners; explore how to understand the Whistler’s resort and community carrying capacity.
The retreat created a good foundation for the next four years. There was great opportunity for Council teambuilding, and opportunity for Council and senior staff to share discussion and build relationships.
We still have a lot of work to do and ultimately the retreat is the beginning of a larger process toward the ultimate development of the updated Corporate Plan and budget for 2019. I look forward to sharing more information in the new year as we work through the planning and budget process, which will confirm the initiatives and directions for the next four years.
Thank you to the members of Council, municipal staff and our partners Tourism Whistler, the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, Whistler Blackcomb, local businesses, community organizations and hard-working employees for making Whistler a truly incredible place to live and visit.
As the holiday season approaches, on behalf of Whistler council, I would like to extend our best wishes to our residents, visitors, and community partners for a safe and happy holiday season.