Over the next 12 months, Whistler’s Official Community Plan (OCP) is being updated and community engagement is crucial every step of the way. The OCP update will be a collaborative process lead by the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) and supported by the Whistler Centre for Sustainability.

The importance of the OCP a regulatory document that has implementation power similar, yet distinct, from Whistler2020, our comprehensive sustainability plan is significant in that it is a document that will enshrine the community’s vision and priorities within a provincially recognized legal framework. This is another example of how Whistler2020 is a living, thriving vision it does not sit on a shelf, and it has an ongoing, adaptive role as we move toward success and sustainability.

The last OCP update occurred in 1993. But the OCP is an organic document, constantly updated through the ongoing operations of Whistler’s local government. The significance of this update is that it will allow Whistler to clearly state how, and with what regulatory tools, we will move forward from a period of rapid resort growth, culminating in the successful hosting of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, to a stable, mature four season destination resort community with a resilient tourism economy.

The kickoff event for this OCP update will be the third annual Apres in Action, in the Grand Foyer of the Whistler Conference Centre on May 26, from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Last week, a questionnaire was launched online at whistler.ca) for the community to identify key OCP issues.

Want the inside scoop? Some of the issues already on the Apres table: air and water quality, smart growth, rideshare and bicycling benefits, how non-car owners deal with garbage, moving transit toward the frequency we had during the Games, energy conservation, tourism market trends, affordable housing, longer Library hours, and adding another ice arena. These are just a few.

The Apres keynote speaker is Patrick Condon, senior researcher with the UBC Design Centre for Sustainability where he holds the James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Livable Environments. Condon will speak about best practices in community sustainability, how Whistler can stay on the cutting edge, and why OCPs are an important part of the process.

After Condon’s talk, participants will have an opportunity to have in depth discussions on the topic areas of the OCP: the natural environment, land use and development, transportation and utilities, climate action, energy and resources, economic viability, Whistler’s quality of life, and neighbourhood vitality.

Apres isn’t the community’s only opportunity to engage with the OCP update events throughout the summer will be used to gather input and feedback. Further, working groups will be established in the fall to review and provide feedback on draft OCP work. Community members can even host their own working group meeting around their kitchen table and invite friends and neighbours to participate.

Meaningful community engagement is the norm in Whistler. The Whistler Centre for Sustainability has been an innovator in this area and is supporting the OCP review by leading and executing the public engagement strategy, and assisting with the integration of the vision and principles of Whistler2020 into the OCP policies.

By Naomi Devine