Skip to content

Whistler narrowly votes against airport


For the second time this year, Whistler Council has voted down a motion from Councillor Nick Davies to proceed down the path toward an airport in Whistler.

But this time the vote was 4-3, with support expressed by Councillor Gordon McKeever and Mayor Hugh O'Reilly.

In February, after the RMOW sought the advice of a consultant and found that an airport might be feasible near Brandywine Provincial Park, Council voted 6-1 against spending $20,000 for a consultant to explore the technical feasibility of an airport.

At the time, lawmakers said they wanted to meet with Village of Pemberton Council to see what sort of plans Pemberton has for its airport that might be beneficial to Whistler.

That meeting has taken place, and on Monday (May 30), Davies said he wasn't convinced the Pemberton Airport option was the answer. Based on a recommendation from the Economic Task Force working on strategies for Whistler 2020, the Comp-rehensive Sustainability Plan, Davies raised the same motion that was rejected in February.

"An airport is absolutely their No. 1 priority, because we need to put Whistler's interests first," Davies said. "We have met with Pemberton and nothing further has happened."

Davies argued that with Whistler's economy "down significantly" in the past couple of ski seasons, an airport would give the economy a much-needed boost - 10 per cent, according to his figuring.

"An airport would result in an almost 10 per cent increase in guests to this resort. The increase in the hotel tax alone would more than pay for this ($20,000) cost," he said. "It means that every five to six years, we get another ski season."

Added Mayor O'Reilly, "This is a systematic approach in which we say, 'Is there a technical show-stopper? Is this doable? If not, it's gone and then we follow up with Pemberton."

Councillor Ken Melamed, though, said he thought the move to implement one of the Economic Task Force's strategies before its report is complete was "pre-emptive." He mockingly suggested that each of the other 15 CSP task forces be allowed to pull out one of its recommendations and have the RMOW spend $20,000 to implement it.

"This is out of step with the process that we have committed to with the community," Melamed said. "The business community is always telling us how dire the economic situation is."

Councillor Marianne Wade wanted to see the RMOW follow up with Pemberton officials before considering going down the road suggested by Davies.

"Just to say, 'We haven't heard anything' isn't good enough," she said.

Councillor Kristi Wells suggested that the RMOW expend its energies pursuing the "financial tools" - i.e. more taxation powers - that were promised by the provincial government as one legacy of the 2010 Olympics.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks