Milestones and significant time markers are important signposts in life: They afford an opportunity to reflect on the past, take stock of how far weíve come and look ahead to future goals and dreams.
So with Whistler council about to hit its six month mark since being sworn in to run the local government, we decided at The Question this week to check in with Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden and a couple of councillors to look back at whatís been achieved so far this term ó†and tasks still to come.
In some ways itís hard to believe more than six months have already passed since Whistlerís historic election that saw a clean sweep in elected leadership, but taking a look at what the not-so-new-anymore council has achieved so far itís clear the team has hit the ground running. That action-oriented approach was evident when council held a special meeting the day after being sworn in to return some free parking to Whistlerís Day Lots, and it has continued as the weeks have unfolded.
If you havenít already checked out the Council Action Plan that was adopted in February, itís worth a read. In just eight pages, you can find out what the goals are for councilís current three-year term and when you can expect the objectives to be crossed of the municipal to-do list.
While the plan isnít set in stone, it offers a clear, straightforward touchpoint for council, municipal staff and community members to see what councilís supposed to be up to, and whether itís achieving the priorities set out for the term.
As Wilhelm-Morden pointed out this week, the plan is a ďliving documentĒ that is likely to change as time goes on. But specific action items aside, we can all continue to monitor councilís progress and performance against the five priority areas it chose: fiscal responsibility, accountability and engagement, client-focused service delivery, an ďopen-for-businessĒ focus, and progressive resort community planning.
So how do you think councilís doing so far in those areas?
We canít really speak to the last few thus far, but strides have certainly been taken in municipal finances, accountability and community engagement. Achieving a zero per cent tax increase for 2012 was a feat in itself, and one that so far hasnít resulted in noticeable cutbacks in community services from what weíve seen.
Plus, based on our Page 1 story, good progress has been made on the action items under the six-month timeframe in the council plan ó†with three months still to go before councilís first self-imposed deadline.
Looking forward, however, there are some big issues still to hit the three-year work plan. And while itís been refreshing to see a united council team that has voted unanimously on every single resolution so far, we have to wonder if thatís a realistic expectation in the long term. Thereís bound to eventually be issues that will see members of council and the community with strong, opposing views.
For example, we think the public engagement process on Whistler U is bound to get a little heated. While individual councillorís thoughts on the campus proposal are mostly unknown at this point, the community discussion has already been divisive and somewhat personal as evidenced on the 2011 Whistler Election Facebook page.
Council has also committed to review transit delivery, re-assess the community forest and work to resolve the asphalt plant issue ó†all three of which have been hot-button local issues that have elicited strong and opposing views in the community.
Thereís no doubt council gets a favourable review of its progress so far. But as Coun. Jack Crompton points out, thereís still hard work ahead.
- Jennifer Miller