If I wanted to live in a cozy, quiet regional ski resort I would have moved somewhere else.
I want to live in a resort that booms year round, with a quick break in the spring and fall to change the sheets; a resort that is attractive to international destination travellers, with enough affordable accommodation and cheap eateries to keep the regional market coming.
I want to live in a resort that is known for excellence. Whistler has the potential to be that resort, and ought to be that resort.
We need to be excellent in things that draw the eyes of those who decide what is excellent and what is merely good. To promote our excellence in snow sports, we make sure the snow press, tour operators and conference organizers know us and think we are excellent.
There is a cadre of culture enthusiasts in town who think that excellence in playing outside is not enough. We need to be known for excellence in cultural pursuits. One aspect of this issue came to a head at a meeting of mayor and council sitting as the committee of the whole last Tuesday (Sept. 18).
The purpose of the meeting was in part to deal with the Film Festival Societyís request for RMI funding to help with the cost of their proposed renovation of the Rainbow Theatre.
The committee of the whole is a small part of the current councilís commitment to be open, transparent and businesslike. The committee is named as such because it is a committee of the whole council. Business is conducted using committee rules rather than more formal parliamentary rules. The range of motions council is able to pass in the committee of the whole is limited. The meetings are open to the public.
Meetings of a committee of the whole tend to be more freewheeling, allowing presenters to make their pitch and to express their pleasure or displeasure at the path proposed by council. Council is able to push back and challenge the proponent directly, as opposed to politely questioning a staff report.
Many view the committee of the whole as being an anachronism. From what I saw last Tuesday the process works very will indeed in Whistler. Mayor and council are to be congratulated for adopting this process.
Shauna Hardy Mishaw for the Film Festival Society read the riot act to mayor and council, and rightly so. The Film Festivalís proposal would result in hard dollars invested in infrastructure that the community owns. The renovation would allow both the film festival and the resort to continue to build international reputations. More business would be driven to the resort. The film festival would complement other events year round. The result would be more guests with higher disposable incomes, meaning more money in the hands of local families.
Hardy Mishaw is very good at reading the riot act, but this mayor and council can handle themselves. They readily acknowledged the importance of the film festival. They admitted that the process had moved less quickly than one might hope, although it appears there was more work going on behind the scenes at the Hall than the society was aware.
Council did not pull any punches in pointing out a couple of realities of life in the valley. Dollars are short. When a community transitions from one political regime to another, proposals in the hopper are subject to fresh sets of eyes and come under fresh scrutiny, bringing new perspectives and new questions. Those points are perfectly valid.
The way I see it, mayor and council are between a rock and a hard spot. Dollars are indeed short. On the other hand, the return on investment promised by the film festival is probably more certain, and less nebulous, than the return on investment for the concert series. Mayor and council need to find a way to do both.