The challenges facing Whistler2020 arose from Whistler's long-time label as a resort community without much focus on its traditional, local character. In response, the city of Whistler developed a plan that would balance these two parts of the city.
A well-established resort community, Whistler has long struggled with maintaining its traditional, local character while also appealing to tourists. The Whistler2020 Plan was a concrete attempt to balance those two things—identifying and finding ways to protect its character elements while still developing and moving forward as a resort destination.
The Plan involved revising a vision for the community and establishing a long-term strategy for achieving the vision. While community character was not articulated as a central goal of the Plan or visioning process, it played an important role in both. Since sustainability is at the heart of the community’s vision and character, the City used the Natural Step framework as a way to create sound action steps and strategies.
Whistler’s 2020 Vision Plan is based upon a 2002 vision, which in turn was based upon a 1997 vision. The ongoing revision and articulation of values has helped Whistler to refine its priorities and sense of character, while building off of the work done in the past. The 2002 process, called “Whistler: It’s Our Future,” combined a science-based Natural Step process with a participation-based visioning program.
The visioning component included four phases: Success factors, Alternative futures, Blended future, and Whistler2020 Vision. The Success factors phase used internet surveys to compile a comprehensive list of factors that citizens believed were critical to the success of Whistler. The Alternative futures phase involved simulation of development scenarios using the QUEST model, which were evaluated through community meetings and the dissemination of workbooks and questionnaires. The Blended future phase combined elements of the five main “futures” envisioned in the previous phase, with the use of telephone surveys and more community meetings. Finally, the Whistler2020 Vision phase refined the vision, created the vision document, and developed sixteen strategy areas used for implementation.
Now focused on implementation, Whistler relies heavily upon an extended community and network of partners. The City has instituted Community Task Forces with over 150 community members, which develop action plans for each of the sixteen strategy areas. Implementing organizations include businesses, NGOs, and community organizations that are committed to implementing specific parts of the Whistler2020 Plan. Many of these organizations and other partners have literally signed on to the community’s vision, including priorities and sustainability objectives. To further the goal of community involvement and awareness, Whistler has created the “Whistler2020 Explorer”—an interactive guide to the plan and a resource for questions about Whistler’s directions.