I would like to thank all those who supported the Whistler International Campus application.
This includes the more than 300 who signed our supporter petition including community leaders such as Roger Soane, Shannon Shusko, Tim Reagan, Ted and Jane Milner, Steve Anderson and Kevin Wallace. A special mention of thanks to the late Chris Raymond, whose passion for this project was unsurpassed. I would also like to thank the realtors, hoteliers and restaurateurs associations, as well as the rotary clubs, who heard us out and gave us so much support.
Tremendous thanks to the Zen family, particularly Roger and Karen, who were willing to invest so many resources to try to bring a lasting legacy to our community that would have given so much to future generations.
Thanks are also due to our educational partners. BCIT and UNBC are two of our finest institutions in British Columbia and they were willing to bring their outstanding programs and reputations to our young people and community.The fine staff of University Tecknikum Wien in Austria and THNK: the Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership were equally committed to the creation of a truly global campus here in Whistler.
This spring THNK will now centre their program in Vancouver, bringing some of the world’s finest minds to the city rather than to Whistler.
Thanks as well to Peter Lang, whose campus design respected the look and feel of Whistler. Thank you to Mo Douglas and Cindy Filipenko who believed in the project and provided valuable advice and assistance along the way.
Finally, I want to thank Councillors Jack Crompton and John Grills for coming to all of our events, forming their own independent opinions on the project and being gracious in their comments on their concerns with the project.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for our mayor. Her vitriolic and insulting comments at the meeting were beyond the pale. They not only insulted the proponents but the integrity of those fine institutions that were willing to take a risk on our town.
The Mayor should learn to turn off her microphone after calling a recess as her comments, caught live, told much about her true character. This was a woman who when asked by the Vancouver Sun about this specific project on April 17, 2012 was quoted as saying “it is a no brainer.”
While she may think that the comments were her crowning glory, they really only served to exacerbate the loss to the community and display her ignorance of the directions that post-secondary education will take in the future.
So who won and who lost? Certainly the proponents and I lost in our attempts to bring an intellectual and cultural component to the community. Life will go on for both of us but the big loser was the community. We have lost an exceptional opportunity to bring economic diversification and greater prosperity to the valley.
We have lost any sense of fairness in Municipal Hall. Yes, the mayor said she would bring the project to the hall but, in spite of our asking, we were never invited in to discuss solutions to the hall’s concerns about our proposal. Even when Councillor Grills raised this in the meeting, he was rebuffed by staff and we were never offered such an opportunity.
Contrast that with the developer who was recently given open and unlimited access to the hall and mayor, in addition to millions of dollars of our land on a sensitive floodplain, a 10-year tax-free holiday and the fastest rezoning process in our town’s history. And what will the facility attract? The same fifty thousand visitors that the SLCC already attracts.
We, on the other hand, were never even accorded the courtesy to sit with staff, the mayor or council to examine alternatives that may have been acceptable to the community.
We have lost environmentally. After the insulting approach taken by the mayor, I am sure there is no hope of the public having access to the Millar Creek wetland, which is privately owned. The use of the Expo trail, which was going to be retained in the campus model is now gone. And, there will be no rehabilitation of Spring and Alpha Creeks which, in the campus plan, would have once again have become fish bearing.
We have lost culturally. Both seniors and young alike would have benefitted from the creation of a centre of learning in our community. On April 17, 2012, Councillor Roger McCarthy said we “have too much brawn and not enough brain in our community.” He and his Council turned down an opportunity to change that. Tourists and conferences would have increased with the addition of a campus but that capacity is now lost. Amenities currently unavailable to the community such as the modern theatre, culinary arts facilities and indoor track have also been lost.
So the true loser is us and our community. Council could have suggested a collaborative approach that might have seen a win-win outcome. Instead the Mayor chose to insult all of us whose intentions were only to create a better and stronger Whistler. However, it will never take away my appreciation of those fine individuals in our community who saw the value in diversifying through education and I will always be appreciative of their support.
WHISTLER INTERNATIONAL CAMPUS