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How to Support Local Businesses this Municipal Election 

September 23, 2022

During the pandemic, Whistler rallied to support local businesses, now the community can continue that support by using their vote in the upcoming Municipal election. 

As the Voice of Business, the Chamber understands the needs of the business community through ongoing member engagement and consultation. To better gauge what action business owners want to see from elected officials ahead of the Municipal Election, The Whistler Chamber conducted a survey of the business community in August – September 2022. 

The information gathered will be shared with all candidates; combined with member input and the leadership of the Chamber’s Advocacy committee, this information will determine our advocacy action plan for the upcoming year. We aim to ensure business appropriate policy, and hold elected officials accountable to campaign promises and positions.

Key Findings

Thank you to everyone who took the time to provide feedback to the Whistler Chamber team. Our key findings show that the same historical issues are still at the forefront for Whistler businesses. The Chamber has provided priority suggested solutions for the candidates to better understand these priorities as this is not an exhausted list. The top three issues for the business community, particularly independent businesses, continue to be:

  1. Reducing Municipal “Red Tape” 
  2. More Affordable Housing
  3. Transportation 

Download Key Findings Summary 

Reducing Municipal Red Tape 

There is a need for simplified, consistent, and fair administration of Municipal policies – Over the past four years, as it relates to policies and decisions by the RMOW, 56% of respondents believe it has become harder to do business in Whistler. In addition to this, 83% of survey respondents are concerned about local businesses closing due to rising costs, including property taxes.

Simplified, consistent, and fair administration and policies increase commercial investment, improve operational efficiency and improve climate action. The municipal government should work to:

  • Include Whistler businesses as a key consideration when reviewing and assessing all new and amended policies and bylaws
  • Improve the processing times for development permits through modernization of bylaws and streamlining permitting procedures
  • Simplify and enforce commercial bylaws around infrastructure improvements, signage and waste management
  • Manage or reduce taxes on commercial space – the cost of which is passed on through commercial lease arrangements

 

More Affordable Housing

There is simply not enough affordable housing for long term and seasonal workers in order to support and ensure the ongoing viability of local businesses. 

95% of respondents believe affordable housing is the number one business related issue this election – The declaration that Whistler houses 75% of its workforce is no longer accurate. We know that the majority of workers experience housing insecurity and fear the loss of their home. This contributes to employee turnover and loss of talent in the resort.  In addition to this, a significant portion of Whistler’s population live in unaffordable, unsuitable housing situations. These are primarily seasonal workers, critical to Whistler’s resort economy.

Elected officials should make zoning changes – Our recent survey shows 99% of survey respondents want to see some form of changes to residential zoning with more options for multi-family units, specifically apartments, condos, and duplexes/fourplexes to be built in areas currently zoned for single-family detached homes. 

Locally housed workers leads to improved talent retention, community engagement, mental health, and climate action. To facilitate this, our municipal government needs to:

  • Build additional housing options for locals including a substantial supply of family-oriented housing, in collaboration with private developers and accelerated development on municipal lands.
  • Dedicate resources to eliminate illegal short-term rentals
  • Amend zoning to increase densification in areas traditionally reserved for detached homes
  • Develop policy and build housing for the seasonal workforce

 

Transportation 

95% of survey respondents support regional transit in the corridor – 

Safe and affordable transportation options lead to improved talent retention, safe and less congested roads, mental health, and climate action. Our community needs our elected officials to:

  • Make regional transit a reality
  • Recognize the importance of transportation of goods and services to drive and support the economy through improved traffic congestion, monitored commercial parking zones, and consideration for transportation reliant trades and service providers in housing construction.

Overall, it is clear that Whistler’s business community is looking for changes and action from elected officials –  67% of survey respondents believe the ease of doing business and costs will get worse over the next 4 years

The business community needs elected officials to create policy and direct the municipality to reduce red tape, increase affordable housing – now and into the future, and focus on affordable transportation in Whistler and throughout the Sea to Sky corridor. Creating an environment which can support a stable workforce is a vital component of a sustainable resort economy.

“These recent survey results show that the same historical issues are still at the forefront for Whistler businesses. These issues were exacerbated through the pandemic.” said Diana Chan, Board Chair of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce. “They also confirm that businesses critically need municipal level, elected officials to collaborate with us to implement solutions for these challenges. There are solutions, they are not all easy, and they are available with a council that is committed to a sustainable economy

 

What are the next steps?

The Whistler Chamber encourages its Members and the larger community to attend Whistler’s All Candidates Meeting on September 28.  

Hosted by The Whistler Chamber, in partnership with Arts Whistler and the Pique Newsmagazine, this hybrid event gives attendees the opportunity to find out where candidates stand and get answers to their questions in real time. If you want your vote to help shape your community then this is the perfect chance to get the answers you need to make an informed decision.

Learn more and register today at go.whistlerchamber.com/events