Whistler Council


ANNOUNCEMENT: I am running for Whistler Council 2022. VOTE: SAT. OCT 15 8AM-8PM @ MYRTLE PHILIP SCHOOL! Read below to learn more about me and why I am motivated to become part of the solution. 

Background - What motivated me to run for council:

I moved to Whistler in 2015 and started the region’s only after-hours veterinary emergency clinic, Twin Trees Vet. Over the past few years, as the housing crisis in Whistler escalated, we lost all of our qualified team due to the housing shortage but were then unable to bring in replacements to staff our emergency clinic, as we could not find suitable housing for new recruits. It is no longer feasible to offer emergency services under the present circumstances in Whistler.  

When staffing shortages reach a critical point, the wellbeing of Whistler’s tourists, weekenders and locals suffers. Safety protocols and sanitation protocols break down. The housing shortage and resultant staffing shortage adversely affect the experience of every visitor and resident of Whistler. 

Whistler is bleeding and emergency solutions are needed. We are losing experienced, qualified staff that are the lifeblood of the resort community, with nearly half of Whistler businesses now reporting that they cannot reach desired staffing levels. 

Housing shortages for the workforce and poor accessibility of primary medical care are critical issues that must be prioritized, as they compromise public health and the viability of our resort community.  I also care deeply about First Nations Reconciliation, the environment, climate change, and transportation solutions. Where there is political will, there are solutions for a peaceful path forward that is aligned with Whistler’s Vision and OCP.

I love Whistler so very much, but like another nominee said, “I can't stand by and watch anymore.” 

Sincerely,

Melinda M. Lopez DVM

Further reading:

Melinda Lopez_ Resume

Letter: What Is Wrong With The Whistler Housing Narrative? (Pique News, May 7, 2022 )

WORCA All Candidates Meeting 1 minute Statement (Sept 21, 2022)

Whistler vet Melinda Lopez calls for collaboration in council bid (by Robert Wisla, Pique News, Sep 20, 2022) 

Pique News Questions for Candidates (Oct 1, 2022)

Platform:

I believe that it is the duty of an elected official to put the interests of the community first, and to not push one's own agenda. My vision is aligned with Whistler's Community Vision and OCP, which was developed through extensive engagement with the community to best articulate the community's longterm vision. The RMOW website explains:

"The Official Community Plan (OCP) is the Resort Municipality of Whistler's most important guiding document that sets long-term community direction. [...]The OCP establishes policies that guide decisions on community planning and land use management for the RMOW over the next five to 10 years and beyond. The OCP also contains a renewed Community Vision for Whistler that articulates the high level aspirations for our resort community, describing what we collectively seek to achieve now and over Whistler's long-term future."

I am most passionate about the following key issues, and so for each I outline my platform by quoting Whistler's OCP:

Chapter 3: Reconciliation with Lil'wat Nation and Squamish Nation

3.1. Goal:  The municipality has initiated the ongoing process towards reconciliation with the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation.3.1. Goal The municipality has initiated the ongoing process towards reconciliation with the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation.
3.2. Goal: The Lil’wat Nation’s and Squamish Nation’s history, and the importance of Whistler to the Nations, is widely understood.
3.3. Goal: The municipality has established cooperative government-to-government relationships with the Lil’wat Nation and Squamish Nation.
3.4. Goal: The municipality, Province, Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation have established a collaborative process for Crown land planning.
3.5. Goal: The Lil’wat Nation and Squamish Nation participate in a meaningful way in the economic development of fee simple lands in which they have an ownership interest.
3.6. Goal: The Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation are successfully participating in Whistler’s resort economy and regional economic growth.
3.7. Goal: The Lil’wat Nation and Squamish Nation are working with the municipality to support and improve local and regional transportation systems.
3.8. Goal: The Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation participate in employee housing opportunities.

Chapter 5: Land Use and Development

5.1. Goal: Meet Whistler’s long-term housing needs consistent with the growth management policies and land use designations in this OCP.

5.1.1. Objective
Designate lands for various forms of residential accommodation to meet Whistler’s diverse housing needs.

5.1.1.1. Policy
Apply and maintain the land use designations shown in Schedule A for residential accommodation development to meet the location, amount, type and density of residential development required to meet anticipated housing needs over a period of at least five years.
5.1.1.2. Policy: Maximize utilization of Residential Reserve lands for employee housing and phase development as required to support Whistler’s employee housing needs.

5.1.2. Objective: House at least 75 per cent of Whistler’s workforce within the resort community in livable, appropriate and affordable housing.

5.1.2.1. Policy: Project and plan for current and future employee housing needs by undertaking ongoing monitoring of key housing need indicators, and adapting supply-related policies and actions accordingly.
5.1.2.2. Policy: Strive to add 1,000 new employee beds within the next five years.
5.1.2.3. Policy: Pursue development of Residential Reserve lands as needed and as appropriate to help address the municipality’s employee housing needs.
5.1.2.4. Policy: Pursue development of Residential Reserve lands in Cheakamus Crossing within the next five years, as one of the primary opportunities for new employee housing.
5.1.2.5. Policy: Consider allowing development of employee housing on underdeveloped private lands in residential neighbourhoods with close proximity to jobs, sustainable transportation, amenities and services and consistent with policies and criteria established for evaluation.
5.1.2.6. Policy: Explore a variety of infill housing types and tenure models as a means to secure employee housing, building upon existing opportunities.
5.1.2.7. Policy: Where new developments are expected to create new jobs, consider requiring employee housing contributions in the following preferred order:
(a) units on site, where compatible with adjacent land uses;
(b) units off site and within Whistler; and
(c) cash in lieu contributions consistent with municipal policies.
5.1.2.8. Policy: Ensure employee housing is occupied consistent with restrictions related to price, use, resale, eligibility and other conditions.
5.1.2.9. Policy: Continually monitor the size of Whistler’s workforce, and the portion of Whistler’s workforce living in Whistler. Seek to ensure the balance between the economy and available supply of employee housing is met.
5.1.2.10. Policy: When determining if the objective of housing 75 per cent of Whistler’s workforce is being met, factor in quality, livability, appropriateness and affordability indicators such as number of people per room or dwelling, percentage of income spent on housing, life stage and family size.

5.1.3. Objective: Protect Whistler’s existing housing and employee housing supply.

5.1.3.1. Policy: Maintain an inventory of employee housing in perpetuity, for rental and ownership tenures, to be available for employees.
5.1.3.2. Policy: Use housing agreements, covenants and bylaws to ensure housing is occupied as intended for employee housing.
5.1.3.3. Policy: Consider creative approaches to encourage homeowners to make their underutilized dwellings and auxiliary residential suites available for employee housing.
5.1.3.4. Policy: Recover housing inventory by actively enforcing against illegal nightly rentals of residentially zoned properties.
5.1.3.5. Policy: Explore infill as a tool to support both aging in place and employee housing.

5.2. Goal: Promote diversity in housing price ranges to maintain affordability for the varied needs of different workforce groups and retirees within the community.
5.3. Goal: Promote a diversity of housing forms, tenures, residential uses and densities to support the resort community’s needs.
5.4. Goal: Reduce the environmental and energy impacts of residential neighbourhoods to improve the quality of life and sustainability of the resort community.

Chapter 7: Natural Environment

7.1. Goal: Whistler’s sensitive ecosystems, wildlife, habitat and biodiversity are protected, managed and restored.
7.2. Goal: Natural areas are proactively managed for and resilient to climate change.
Objectives & Policies
7.3. Goal: Water quality and quantity in local water bodies, streams and groundwater are protected.
7.4. Goal: Air quality is protected.

Chapter 8: Health, Safety and Well-being

8.7. (Public Safety) Goal:  Ensure Whistler is a safe and secure resort community.
8.8. (Accessibility) Goal: Ensure Whistler is an inclusive and accessible resort community.
8.9. (Childcare) Goal: Support a variety of childcare opportunities for Whistler’s children.

8.9.1. Objective: Improve access to preschool and childcare facilities and services.

8.9.1.1. Policy: Encourage the availability of licensed childcare facilities, including facilities providing infant care.
8.9.1.2. Policy: Support licensed childcare programs within municipal facilities.
8.9.1.3. Policy: Consider neighbourhood multi-use facilities with space for childcare programs.
8.9.1.4. Policy: Encourage development of a network of in-home family childcare with appropriate licensing, throughout the community.
8.9.1.5. Policy: Encourage new development and redevelopment to provide appropriately scaled space that may be leased at affordable rates to licensed childcare operators.
8.9.1.6. Policy: Explore opportunities to partner with School Districts No. 48 and No. 93 to provide services and incorporate childcare facilities into the design of new schools.

8.11. (Health and Wellness) Goal: Strive to ensure community health and social services and facilities meet the physical, mental, spiritual and social needs of residents and visitors. 

8.11.1. Objective: Engage with service providers and the community to maintain and coordinate high quality services with a particular focus on the needs of those who are most vulnerable.
8.11.1.1. Policy Review with VCH the expansion of the existing Whistler Health Care Centre, as shown in Schedule D, for additional health services, including overnight care, as necessary.
8.11.1.2. Policy Explore with VCH future health care sites for additional health services, if required.
8.11.1.3. Policy Engage VCH in reviewing health care infrastructure capacity in conjunction with future community development, resort development and activities.
8.11.1.4. Policy:  Foster a community culture that prioritizes prevention and holistic care as the approach to combating illness and substance abuse with early and ongoing intervention and a strong focus on youth.
8.11.1.5. Policy: Support the private sector in providing general family medicine through a variety of mechanisms, including the possible provision of subsidized space to doctors who provide complex, comprehensive care.
8.11.1.6. Policy: Encourage the private sector in providing a full range of specialized health and wellness services, including sports medicine and injury recovery, that complement the public health care system.
8.11.1.7. Policy: Work with relevant agencies and stakeholders to assess the need and delivery strategies for adult and senior care facilities and services in the resort community, including those focused on mental health and assisted living.
8.11.1.8. Policy: Partner with the Lil’wat Nation, Squamish Nation and VCH wherever possible on community health, education and training initiatives and monitoring to improve health outcomes.
8.11.1.9. Policy: Engage with social service providers to ensure an adequate level of services is maintained.
8.11.1.10. Policy: Advocate for and support a strong, local mental health system adapted to Whistler’s unique demographics and community needs.
8.11.1.11. Policy: Provide core levels of recreation services, programs and facilities, recognizing that these services are essential preventive health care and injury rehabilitation services.
Chapter 10: Climate Action and Energy

10.1. Goal: Municipal decision-making is well-structured to achieve energy efficiency goals and GHG reduction targets.
10.2. Goal: Substantially reduce GHG emissions from vehicles and transportation.
10.3. Goal: Substantially reduce GHG emissions from buildings and infrastructure.
10.4. Goal: Substantially reduce GHG emissions associated with solid waste management.
10.5. Goal: Increase the resilience of Whistler’s infrastructure, natural environment and socio-economic assets from the potential impacts of a changing climate.

Chapter 11: Transportation

11.1. Goal: Provide a quality travel experience for all visitors, employees and residents, and promote a culture of safety and accessibility for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
11.2. Goal: Integrate the transportation system with land use planning to minimize the need for travel by motor vehicle.
11.3. Goal: Minimize GHG emissions created by the transportation system.
11.4. Goal: Support the increased use of preferred modes of transportation for all travel purposes to reduce dependence on private motor vehicles.
11.5. Goal: Ensure the transportation system cost-effectively meets and anticipates the resort community’s future needs and population growth.
11.6. Goal: Ensure the resiliency of Whistler’s transportation system by providing viable alternative road, railway, water and air transport routes to, from and within the resort community.
11.7. Goal: Ensure the transportation system respects Whistler’s natural environment, minimizes climate impacts and improves the livability of the resort community.

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD

Housing survey:
If you work in Whistler, please fill out this independent housing survey! The workers living in unsuitable and unaffordable conditions, as well as the unhoused and the "hidden homeless" are often not captured by the residential housing surveys and census data that inform housing policy. 

General feedback:
I want to hear from you! Every person in our community deserves to be represented and to have their voice heard. Please use this form to share your thoughts, comments, suggestions, feedback, vision for Whistler, etc. 

BE COUNTED THIS ELECTION.

Democracy doesn't work if you don't participate. Voter info here. You can register to vote when you arrive at the polling station with 2 pieces of ID (scroll down on that page to see ID options). There are early voting times. You can also vote by mail. 

Advance Voting Opportunities

  • Wednesday, October 5, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Whistler Public Library.
  • ​Saturday, October 8, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Whistler Public Library.

General Voting Day

  • Saturday, October 15, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Myrtle Philip School.​

More details on the Whistler municipal election here: