Whistler Mayor Should Defend or Clarify Comments About Lower Mainland Daytrippers

Whistler mayor, Nancy Wilhelm-Morden. (whistler.ca)

My thoughts here come at the request of Roundhouse Radio morning host Gene Valaitis. The response to my previous article reacting to Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden’s comments about day trippers from the Lower Mainland was considerable, with commenters expressing outrage at the mayor’s apparently elitist comments.

Over the past couple of weeks, requests for clarification of these comments—including a standing invitation from Gene Valaitis for her to appear on his show—have been denied by the Whistler Mayor’s office.

Mayor Wilhelm-Morden told CBC in early October that the Whistler community does not want visits from people who are going there for a day and packing a bag with their lunch in it, as they supposedly don’t appreciate Whistler’s mountain culture. In the interview, she singled out visitors from the Lower Mainland.

It’s up to Mayor Wilhelm-Morden to back up or clarify her statements. Doing so would not only be the right thing to do, it would be in the best interest of the Whistler tourist economy.

There are two likely explanations for Mayor Wilhelm-Morden’s comments. Either they were made off-the-cuff and weren’t fully thought through, or there is a sizable voting contingent of Whistler residents who truly believe in this sort of elitism and the Mayor’s comments were an appeal directed towards them. I would like to think that the former is true, and that the residents of Whistler don’t share her thoughts about visitors from the Lower Mainland. In support of that, the comments left by Whistler residents on my previous article suggest that the vast majority of them are happy to welcome their fellow British Columbians to their beautiful piece of this province.

Part of the reason why the Mayor’s comments struck such a chord with Lower Mainlanders is because Whistler and the Lower Mainland have always enjoyed a strong relationship. Whistler’s proximity to Vancouver is what made it a favorite destination for Lower Mainlanders in the first place, and Vancouver visitors have helped contribute to the international popularity that Whistler relies on. Without Lower Mainland daytrippers, Whistler wouldn’t be what it is today.

As of now, we’re left to speculate about the Mayor’s comments, and for Lower Mainlanders, that means having to wonder if we’re truly welcome in one of our province’s top destinations. If in fact Mayor Wilhelm-Morden’s comments were truly made in error, there’s an easy way for her to put this controversy to bed: respond to the Lower Mainland media’s multiple requests for a follow-up.

As I stated last time I wrote about this, Mayor Wilhelm-Morden’s comments aren’t going to deter me from visiting Whistler. However, many other Lower Mainlanders don’t feel the same way. They will likely be spending their money on visits to British Columbia’s many other beautiful mountain destinations, unless the Mayor sets the record straight. Then we can put all of this behind us.