While the road to get here has sometimes been bumpy, there’s no question that Whistler is a better place to live than it was 10 years ago.
We have a real library now, and it’s a busy, vibrant place — the community hub for learning and growth we’ve always dreamed it could become.
We have more employee-restricted housing than ever, putting the Whistler dream in reach of hundreds more families. It’s cheaper to live in Whistler — and in some rather spacious houses when you include Rainbow — than it is to live in Vancouver.
We have an outdoor rink and communal space to gather year-round for events, or just to hang out with friends and family. We’re only beginning to make full use of the potential for that area.
The cultural scene has never been better, from grass-roots music workshops to hosting the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
There has never been more festivals and events, or more to do, than there is today.
The Valley Trail has grown. The network of bike trails has grown as well, while the Sea to Sky Trail is now connected from one end of the resort to the other. There are more parks, and the parks we already have are bigger and better than they used to be.
We have events like the Whistler Holiday Experience to entertain our guests when the weather turns ugly. And a building is underway that will soon house one of the most important personal art collections in all of Canada.
And thanks to municipal staff, council members and volunteers, we now have recommendations in place to improve everything else — economic growth and opportunity, recreation and leisure, learning and education, and culture.
But while progress has been tangible, there are still a few things that the community needs.
We could use a few more indoor nighttime attractions for families for example, as the recent rains illustrate. Nothing has replaced Alpenrock since it closed in 2001, and there are thousands of square feet of undeveloped underground space available for some kind of amenity — a pool hall, laser tag arena, arcade, bowling alley, or a combination of all of the above. The problem is that anything that gets built will need to be liquor licensed to turn a profit, and despite the changes to liquor laws announced by the province it’s still not a viable to have a licenced family establishment.
The Whistler Museum needs a new facility for its collection, something that fits in with the resort’s cultural ambitions and high international profile.
The village is improving with the Village 3.0 initiative, and the idea for creating distinct centres within the village is a good one. However, the retail issue continues to be a problem: rents and fees are still on the high side, and as a result we’ve seen some of our prime retail locations go to decidedly non-retail uses — physiotherapy clinics and doctor’s offices, franchise operations and now, in the prime space opposite the playground, a bank.
Pay parking continues to be an impediment to people coming to town. There is a cost to maintaining the lots that the resort assumed from Whistler Blackcomb in a convoluted land deal, but going after customers with yet another fee isn’t great for retail or our reputation.
It should also be noted that our growing senior population doesn’t have a housing option yet, and all of the more popular proposals so far have fallen through. Seniors give this resort so much through their volunteering and involvement, but they need to have the right facilities in order to continue to age in place.
That’s only a partial wishlist of improvements, and there are hundreds more in our planning documents. It might seem like a big job if we haven’t accomplished so much already.