Welcoming Whistler’s newcomers

Connect Whistler returns with full schedule of activities until Sunday (Nov. 12)

Whether you’re moving from a neighbouring city or from the other side of the world, coming to a new town isn’t easy — even if that town is one of the most popular ski resorts on the planet.

As another group of new residents arrives in Whistler ahead of the upcoming snow season, three of the biggest players in town are combining forces to help ease these newcomers’ adjustment.
Spearheaded by Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS), the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) and Whistler Blackcomb (WB), this year’s edition of Connect Whistler — a long-standing community tradition formerly dubbed Whistler Welcome Week — kicked off on Monday (Nov. 6). It marks the beginning of a week-long schedule packed with activities aiming to get new residents better acquainted with their new home.

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The RMOW has been involved with the initiative since its inception, explained the municipality in an email. “We strongly support creating a connection to the community of Whistler for new residents, and believe that this is an opportunity to showcase all of the amazing resources available to residents,” it said.

This is the second year the initiative is being run collaboratively by the three organizations, as well as the second under its rebranded moniker.

“It takes a village, and this week is no different,” said Jackie Dickinson, program manager with WCSS. “It’s going to take a village of organizations and people to really allow new residents to the community to connect.”

WB employee housing manager Nicole Baudisch agrees the week is a great chance for long-time locals to get to know their new neighbours, and vice versa.  “For our new first year staff, this is a great way to get to know the community and the various services and activities Whistler has to offer,” she said in a statement.

To that end, the five-day initiative will include a multi-day scavenger hunt for newcomers, ending on Friday (Nov. 10). Participants can pick up one of the 800 passports that have been printed from the Whistler Public Library, WB staff housing, the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation social service centre in Spring Creek, or at any of the official Connect Whistler Events. Over the following days, they’ll have to visit the local businesses, organizations and essential services listed to collect stamps. When completed, passports can be dropped off at one of the three designated locations and subsequently entered into a draw to win a heli-ski drop or a GoPro camera.

“There’s quite a few places to visit. We’re really going to have new residents going from one end of town to the other,” Dickinson said.

In addition to offering complimentary, fun activities like yoga, dodgeball, fitness classes and even a polar bear dip in Lost Lake, the week also aims to open new Whistlerites’ eyes to some of the issues they might encounter while in town. To that end, participants can attend free workshops hosted by the Whistler Public Library about renter’s rights on Wednesday, and backcountry skiing and avalanche awareness on Thursday, as well as a Naloxone training session on Tuesday (Nov. 7) from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., presented by Vancouver Coastal Health’s Whistler Mental Health and Substance Use Services.

When administered properly, Naloxone is a medication capable of reversing the effects of an overdose from opioids, including fentanyl. Fentanyl has been detected in just over 81 per cent of illicit drug overdose deaths in British Columbia in the first half of 2017, according to the B.C. Coroners Service.

“Every year we revisit and look at the things that are emerging in our community for mental and physical health and recognized that this was an opportunity to have new residents coming into the community learning about the best practices around Nalaxone training,” Dickinson said, referencing previous training sessions held within the community that sold out.

The session has room for 30 participants available on a first-come, first-served basis, all of whom will be leaving with a take-home Naloxone Kit. For more information and the full schedule of Connect Whistler activities, visit Connect Whistler’s Facebook page.

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