Sense of Community

Chapter 8

What it’s about

Ensuring Whistler has strong community connections and social fabric—that Whistler is inclusive and affordable, and we enjoy high levels of trust, community engagement and good governance.

Residents feel a strong sense of community and close connections to the place and people of Whistler. Social connections, the unique culture of the community and its small town feel help to keep Whistler livable. There is a stable local community because residents have opportunities to remain in Whistler and transition through the life stages from young adults, to families with children, to retirees. Resident retention is seen as important as it promotes the continuity and sharing of community values, experiences and knowledge across generations.

The passion of our community for the mountains, natural environment and recreational opportunities is celebrated and shared with visitors. Whistler is a vibrant and diverse community, which is welcoming and inclusive of all cultures, ages, religions, abilities and identities. People who are drawn here share our love of nature, active recreation, human connection, innovation and opportunity. A culture of sustainability and environmental protection is supported and embodied by residents and visitors.

Whistlerites consistently report a strong sense of belonging to Whistler, interactions with visitors are mostly positive, and trust among community members continues to be relatively high. Whistler’s community character and sense of belonging are enriched through vibrant locations for social connections, community engagement, access to natural areas and recreational pursuits, and unique locally owned businesses. These important assets currently exist in Whistler and are essential to maintain going forward.

Efforts across Whistler and especially in local schools for increased inclusivity, understanding of diversity as well as a closer connections to First Nations seek to grow respect among younger people. Our population has become more diverse with 13 per cent of residents in 2016 (versus 11 per cent in 2006) stating that the language they speak most often at home is neither English nor French. With respect to immigration, 32 per cent of Whistler residents (versus 22 per cent in 2006 and 25 per cent in 2011) are now either immigrants or non-permanent residents (including individuals residing in Whistler on work or study permits). Between 2011 and 2016, the number of immigrant citizens in Whistler increased by 970, representing almost 50 per cent of Whistler’s total population increase of 2,030 residents during this same period. A total of 41 mother tongues are spoken here, and while the vast majority still speak English, our other official language of French is closely followed by Japanese and Filipino.

Recent permanent population growth and a significant increase in the number of visitors, especially in the summer, have introduced many new faces to the community. This growth has brought low housing vacancy rates and rising costs of living, especially related to housing where market prices have risen significantly in recent years. While investments in employee housing have helped to house the majority of Whistler’s workforce in the community, making ends meet has become increasingly challenging for many residents.

Click the ‘Objectives & Policies’ to display additional content.

8.1. Goal Promote, encourage and support initiatives that strengthen the community’s sense of place and sense of belonging.

8.1.1. Objective

Protect and enhance Whistler’s character and sense of place. Policy

Support initiatives that preserve and celebrate Whistler’s character, sense of place and unique, authentic mountain culture. Policy

Support existing and new local, unique businesses that are essential to Whistler’s sense of place, culture and product mix. Policy

Encourage interaction between residents and visitors, so that residents can share their passion for the community.

8.1.2. Objective

Promote and support connections to the natural environment. Policy

Create and promote ways for all community members to have access to the natural environment. Policy

Promote and encourage a culture of environmental protection and sustainability and living and playing within the community’s carrying capacity.

8.2. Goal Promote efforts to enhance the quality of life for all residents and employees.

8.2.1. Objective

Strive to increase affordability for residents. Policy

Create strategies and mechanisms to ensure basic needs, including housing, food, transportation, childcare, recreation and health care, are affordable for all who live and work in Whistler. Policy

Work with resort partners and businesses to move towards a living wage for all employees.

8.3. Goal Strengthen opportunities for social cohesion and connectedness for residents and visitors.

8.3.1. Objective

Support community initiatives that aim to create greater social connectedness. Policy

Provide opportunities for residents to connect with each other during municipal initiatives, events and activities. Policy

Continue to provide well-designed places and opportunities for social interaction throughout the resort community.

8.4. Goal Encourage and strengthen a culture of inclusion and diversity.

8.4.1. Objective

Encourage opportunities for interaction, understanding and sharing between residents and visitors. Policy

Work with community partners to provide and support activities and events where community members and visitors can learn about and enjoy experiences with other cultures. Policy

Provide opportunities to be welcoming, inclusive and supportive of all ages, genders, gender identities, abilities, cultures and religions at community events and activities. Policy

Encourage opportunities for interaction among residents, second homeowners, seasonal employees, retirees, students and visitors. Policy

Work with the Lil’wat Nation and Squamish Nation to create activities and opportunities for sharing each Nation’s history and culture with community members and visitors. Policy

Support the work of community-based service groups and organizations to bring community members and visitors together through arts, culture, festivals and events that enhance cross-cultural understanding with a focus on incorporating First Nations culture.

8.5. Goal Provide and support meaningful opportunities for community engagement.

8.5.1. Objective

Encourage community engagement at all levels, from volunteerism to participation in municipal initiatives. Policy

Provide appropriate and meaningful opportunities for community and partner engagement in policy-making and other decisions where relevant and appropriate. Policy

Foster a culture of volunteerism, provide opportunities wherever possible and recognize volunteers’ efforts. Policy

Encourage greater diversity in municipally-led engagement initiatives, considering a variety of ways to engage diverse community stakeholders.

8.6. Goal Create and embed effective governance mechanisms and partnerships to create trust, responsibility and accountability.

8.6.1. Objective

Implement leading practices for good governance. Policy

Implement strategies to be an open and transparent government. Policy

Ensure planning and decision-making is aligned with the community’s articulated Community Vision and OCP goals. Policy

Ensure the budgeting process supports the achievement of the Community Vision and OCP goals. Policy

Continue to monitor, evaluate and report on progress relative to the Community Vision and OCP goals. Policy

Ensure the municipality effectively and efficiently balances its costs and expenditures.

8.6.2. Objective

Work with partners to achieve mutual benefits. Policy

Collaborate with community and regional partners wherever possible and practical. Policy

Support partners in engaging community members where possible.