In 2001, I flew in to Vancouver from Ontario in late October. I had one suitcase and two pairs of skis. I didn’t know anyone in Whistler, but I had lined up a job and staff housing. When I arrived late on a Monday night, they told me that I wasn’t eligible for staff accommodations because I was a supervisor. I was told to go to the Shoestring Lodge, that they’d have a bed for me until I could find something more permanent. I checked in there, and stayed for a week. I then found a private room in a house with a couple who were expecting their first child in April. I could stay until then.
Since then, I have lived in Nordic, Alpine, Nesters, Pemberton, Bayshores, Nesters, and Bayshores again. I’ve considered myself lucky that each time was a little better. But there are stories out there about the types of living conditions, today’s cost of living, and it is scary. Long term residents will say that it has always been hard to find a good place to live. Some will be so bold as to say that it was worse when they got here. That they paid their dues. I’d suggest that it doesn’t make today’s housing crisis any easier or less of a crisis.
Every season, a new ship of bright eyed, stoked for snow, young and naive arrive in town with big dreams and just enough money to pay their first and last month’s rent. The businesses of this town depend on it. But, Whistler is a glass jar, in which only so many rocks can fit. Once the jar is full, some rocks have to move on, or the jar will need to get bigger. We need people to pour coffee and help tourists with rental skis. We need keen young skiers and boarders to arrive willing to teach littles to ski, to shovel snow, and to keep our wine glasses full. If too many rocks want to stay in the jar, the jar will break.
The next few posts, I hope to shed a little light on what I am seeing happen in Whistler. I have the privilege of sitting on Municipal Council, and the unique perspective of what it takes to live in Whistler on a regular front line job’s wages. Please let me know what you’d like to read about, what has got you fired up, or what you want to see from me.