Official Community Plan Work Shops… 2011 OCP Update
The Resort Municipality of Whistler was incorporated in September of 1975; as such it was then mandated by the BC Government to prepare and give an official community plan (OCP). Whistler’s OCP was formulated by many locals, business people, and guided by RMOW staff. This was a collective, collaborative opportunity to be involved with forming the principles for the future growth and environmental stewardship of Whistler.
The OCP for Whistler was last updated in 1993 although over the years council has made changes to the existing policies through regular chamber process. The government mandates the OCP, but local council have the last say.
Original to Whistler and now used as a guide for other Resorts – often confused with the OCP is Whistler’s 2020 document. The Whistler 2020’s focus is primarily:
• Enriching Community Life
• Enhancing the Resort Experience
• Ensuring Economic Viability
• Protecting the Environment
• Partnering for Success
To carry out this goal four underlining questions are always asked:
• Does the action move toward the description of success?
• Does the action move toward the description of sustainability? (For both of the above, if not, why not?)
• Is it a flexible platform for future improvement? (In other words, if the action does NOT get us toward success and sustainability, is it something we can build on, or are we investing a lot of resources on something without potential for further development?)
• Is it a good financial investment?
Whistler 2020 is an award-winning strategy for sustainable development, which was successful because of the high level of citizen participation. The first draft was completed in 2004 and later adopted in 2005 after a few revisions. The document is a guide into our future and beyond.
Back to OCP process
In April of 2010, immediately after the 2010 Olympic and Paralympics Winter Games the process of creating an updated OCP began – It is advised by the Government that OCP’s are updated each 5 years.
Many articles each week appeared in both the Question and The Pique; two local papers asking citizens of Whistler to come forward, roll up their sleeves and put their two cents into the new OCP – the process was meant to be transparent and open to everyone. Several ideas for involving locals were implemented:
• Community Engagement
• Après in Action
• Youth Questionnaire and Camp
• Backyard Brainstorms
The OCP process was set up in 6 phases, phase five was completed in late February 2011 with the last phase to take place April 2011. While lately the process has seemed fast paced among locals, it was intended to take one year and is on track. In other municipalities the process has taken longer, but it does not have to.
Areas of involvement have been:
• Whistler 2020
• Climate, Action, Energy
• Land Use
• Quality of Life
• Economic visibility
• Natural Environment
• Transportation and Infrastructure
• Growth Management
Each group have put in a tremendous amount of personal time and energy to come up with and narrow down what is deemed the most important issues with each topic. The groups also consist of municipal staff that have worked in teams on each topic as well. In the essence of time not every nuance of conversation can be discussed so a narrowing down of the top 9 issues is reviewed. Not meaning that the other possible 10 ten items are not important, it is just that time only allows for so many topics to be discussed. Nothing ever disappears from the documents or notes; if not present in the final OCP document, the items will be moved to the 2020 document.
What did the locals say
In networking with other members of the public who have been involved since the inception of the OCP updates these were resounding concerns:
• What is the rush?
• We don’t think staff understands what a big disruption the Olympics was
• We need to re-define ourselves as a community
• We need to develop more amenities that encourage tourism.
• Prioritization and embrace new thinking entrepreneurialism.
• Encourage an open door policy.
• Open attitude.
• Consider to support main economy of Whistler adding more value all works together.
• Flexibility and adaptability is not present
• Does what we say get considered?
• The entire document is closed minded
• We are not open for business / we’re not inviting for new business
• The process has been frustrating
• We hope this is a shared community direction
• The process has been informative and very interesting
• The out of the box ideas will be difficult to break through the walls of analysis that stifle the creative ones
• Some of the questions were too complicated – not clear and concise
• Very impressed with the turnout of locals for such a long time commitment
• The concept of finalizing the OCP may tie the hands of the new council and administrator
• Proud the community has been involved!
It is a little soon to draw any conclusions about what will be included in the final document to be sent to Victoria for approval… better known as our shareholders.
The process is not complete, one more opportunity awaits the citizens of Whistler… the door has always been open. I believe the community is listening now. We all needed some time to get over the Olympics, but the following month was probably a little premature to ask the community if they were listening and wanted to yet volunteer again. A functional policy has been developed and used over the past 17 years, although today we enter a new realm of politics and now both ears are ready to listen… we had our rest and are willing to get back to work.
For myself I was a little concerned with the book smart, social lacking part of the entire process; especially when we were repeatedly told “If it doesn’t make the OCP document” you will find it in the whistler 2020… RED FLAG… I will be patient and trusting…
Kevin Damaskie is the Sustainability Coordinator for the RMOW and conducted the facilitation of the workshops. Kevin did a very thorough job and should be commended for his patient, structured approach and sense of humour. It was nice to intermingle with staff from the RMOW and hear their inside approach to many of the committees surrounding the OCP and what they were thinking as they formed the guidelines for the future document. They have all been open and collabrative…
First Draft of the Updated OCP
I suggest you take your calendars out now and write down this date April 07th, 2011
OCP – Community Open House Community Workshop entitled “The Whistler Experience”
5:30-8:30pm Hilton Hotel (Mt. Currie Ballroom)