I am proud to say I’m a second-generation Whistler business owner. I came to live in Whistler as a newborn as my father, Jack Bright, was Whistler’s GM from 1967-1977. In that period, we lived in staff housing and as a result, my father never second-guessed his decision to come here, he never worried about being evicted or having our residence sold out from us. He was free to to put his passion and commitment to building the resort into a world-class destination. Whistler, during that time, had some amazing growth.
I want all staff and employees of Whistler to have this same confidence now, that they have a secure place to live, yet it seems so out of reach these days.
When my father passed away in 2013, I took over the main responsibility for the family business, and what followed was five years like I have never seen. We all faced one of the most challenging and changing times in the history of Whistler. Real estate doubled. Rents tripled. And the resort had record-breaking visits. What should have been a boon has been fraught with new issues--staffing and housing shortages--necessitating many business closures. Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) cannot run my businesses; we cannot run a resort town without our greatest assets—our people. I live in fear of how we can replace Whistler’s workers and middle class, middle management and accountable employees--the glue that keeps it all together. Affordable housing, transit, daycare, decent wages—these things are all necessary to draw people to want to move to Whistler and work here, and then to stay here and make this town their home. They are the true partners in our success. Why do we make it so hard for them?
I have many passions for Whistler’s future. I’m concerned about our environment, our transportation, and most importantly, fire mitigation. In my life, I have witnessed trees grow from saplings into a major and identified forest fire hazards. Open spaces I played in as a kid, are now so densely treed that today, if a fire broke out, it would be impossible to outrun it. I firmly believe that we cannot allow our town, our livelihood, and our investments to be this vulnerable—and yet, it appear we do not have the funds to fix it. Extraordinary measures are needed; we simply have too much to lose. This problem requires tactful government lobbying, for if Whistler burns, so does much of the tax money we generate.
I was not looking to enter the world of politics. Instead, it grabbed me when a development threatened our family business. I felt shut out, alone from the RMOW, and without any recourse, as I was told there was nothing I could do to stop it. That's when I found the politician within me. I gathered like-minded people, we shared concerns, and when the time came, we stopped it. Our good RMOW council was the conscience of the people!
Despite not being elected to council this year, I will continue to help others as I was helped. I will continue to speak out and be a champion for your safety, and an advocate for you and your family in Whistler, the place we all love. I believe that any triumphs in the causes true to my heart are ones that will benefit all, equally and fairly.