Letters to the Editor for the week of September 21st – Whistler Pique Newsmagazine


Barrett Fisher’s comments are timely and in fact long overdue (Pique, “Letters to the Editor” Sept.14)

In the 38 years that I have lived in Whistler, I have never encountered such dissatisfaction by locals over the loss of their quality of life. Like Barrett, (the CEO of Tourism Whistler), I have had the great opportunity to travel the world, both as a tourist and a mountain- and ski-resort planner and designer. Like Barrett, I always ask myself, could I live at the place I am visiting? And, like Barrett, I have always found those options had shortcomings and Whistler remained the location of choice.

That is, until recently. Now there are other places that are worthy of consideration.

This is primarily being driven by the fact that the powers that be at Whistler have chosen to ignore the basic and original Whistler mantra that there are limits to growth.  Mountain environments are very definable areas with absolute capacities (skiers on the mountain, cars on the highway, parking in the lots, the number of beds, clean water, sewage, the environment, resident housing, developable area, economics, etc.). To be sustainable, all of these capacities need to be in balance.

Cross the tipping point of these capacities and you begin to wreck the place. With the overcrowding and constant drive for more growth, Whistler has crossed that tipping point; surpassed its comfortable carrying capacity and has seriously begun to lose its shine. It is easy to point fingers at the “growth for growth’s sake” culprits. The challenge now is to figure out how to retreat and establish a balanced, steady state, tourism focused economy.

I commend Barrett and her team at Tourism Whistler for finally verbalizing the need for a new vision for Whistler.

Ever since the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Whistler, we have been largely rudderless.

Let’s hope that we collectively have the strength to make the difficult decisions to create, implement and enforce mechanisms to control growth and recapture some of the magic.

Brent Harley
President, BHA Inc.,