Whistler’s local politicians, elected with a clear mandate to clean up municipal hall, are making headway in their first eight months.
Now on summer recess, council’s decision-making so far has been unanimous on all votes put to question.
Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said that fact is not necessarily because everyone is agreeing on all decisions from the outset of each meeting.
“Everybody has various opinions on just about every decision that comes in front of us and they can be, and have been, strongly held,” said the mayor. “But we have discussed particular issues from all perspectives and arrived at decisions that all of us support.”
Coun. Jack Crompton said he was surprised that all votes met with unanimity but said it is a result of the fact council has made it a value to work together and have respectful debate instead of fighting over things.
“It is not just a vote but coming to an understanding of each other and being collaborative,” he said. “One word I would use to describe work we do is ‘empowering’ because everybody’s opinion is being taken very seriously around the table and I think that ends up resulting in a situation (where) if you disagree with others going into a topic, you work hard to keep your mind open.
“I have learned very quickly that a perspective I hold very strongly is not as full and as well-rounded as an opinion that is informed by six other people.”
Coun. Jayson Faulkner agreed, saying the professional way in which everyone at the council table approaches the job by being collaborative and respectful is key.
“We took the philosophy into discussions and debate that there are a number of intelligent people around table who have a lot of experience and success in their backgrounds,” Faulkner said. “In general, I would have to say everybody is super supportive and that is encouraging because that gives us more confidence to press in directions we feel are important and doing it with a unified voice.”
The mayor said the election sent a clear message to those who won their seats that things needed to be dealt with immediately.
That is why, she added, within 24 hours of being sworn in she called a special council meeting to pass resolutions of pay parking, her salary and illegal spaces.
“I did that intentionally because I wanted to show community we received the messages they sent in the election and we were going to start dealing with issues right away,” Wilhelm-Morden said.
In January, council went on retreat to formulate its action plan and made it public the next month, followed by direction to administration to develop a corporate plan and begin senior management and departmental reviews.
“We have been working very hard and we have been achieving some very good results in my view and certainly the feedback I have been receiving from community is, for the most part, (that) we are on the right track,” she said. “We are going to continue working as hard, if not harder – we aren’t going to rest on our laurels.”
Faulkner said council is also impressed with senior staff’s willingness to engage and do things differently under the leadership of Chief Administrative Officer Mike Furey, who was also new to the job when the municipal election was held.
“I think he has done a great job starting to assert his vision and his recent business plan is a perfect example of that,” he said. “None of this would have happened if we didn’t have people working as a team.”
All acknowledged the streak of unanimous votes will likely not continue as a series of significant issues face council in the near future. Looming over council’s fall term are the issues of education and establishing the education task force, the 2013 budget process and completing the Official Community Plan.