Whistler celebrates 45th anniversary with a new vision

THE Resort Municipality of Whistler celebrates its 45th anniversary this year with a historic agreement that changes the economic landscape for the municipality and Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Líl̓wat Nations as they move towards reconciliation.

“Whistler’s 45th anniversary as a resort municipality is an exciting milestone to celebrate their past, along with a new vision for the future, with the recent signing of their historic agreement with First Nations,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, on Sunday. “I look forward to seeing Whistler and the Squamish and Líl̓wat Nations work together to shape their community and explore new economic opportunities for this world-class resort destination.”

The agreement signed in June 2020 between the Squamish and Líl̓wat Nations, the Province, the Resort Municipality of Whistler and Whistler Blackcomb, creates a framework to establish better government-to-government relations and a co-operative partnership, reflecting B.C.’s commitment to reconciliation.

The framework agreement also led the way for a change that enables the municipality to complete official community plans without ministerial approval. This gives the Resort Municipality of Whistler more autonomy over future planning and land use, and will allow all parties to participate and have their interests’ reflected.

“The framework agreement is a significant and meaningful step in continuing to build a government-to-government relationship with the Lil’wat Nation and Squamish Nation,” said Jack Crompton, Mayor, Resort Municipality of Whistler. “The framework agreement aims to establish a co-operative relationship in the spirit of reconciliation for the purpose of addressing topics of mutual interest and to raise awareness and understanding. The Resort Municipality of Whistler looks forward to continuing to work with the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation on building this relationship.”

After many years of discussions, the parties established a foundation for future planning, land use and economic development that meets the needs and interests of those in the Whistler region. The framework agreement includes economic development opportunities for the Nations and a land exchange.

Many B.C. regions that have a tourism-based economy, like Whistler, are pleased to welcome visitors with safety measures in place. Everyone travelling in B.C. is reminded to be respectful of the communities they visit by sticking to some simple travel guidelines: check travel advisories before leaving, stay home if sick, clean hands frequently, keep a safe physical distance from people and wear a mask when that is not possible.

Political Chief Dean Nelson, The Líl̓wat Nation – Ku̓kwpi7 Skalúlmecw, said: “The Líl̓wat Nation would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Resort Municipality of Whistler on their 45th anniversary. The Nation looks forward to being an active partner in the resort’s future through the recently completed umbrella and framework agreements which recognize the significant Indigenous history and presence on the land.”

Syeta’xtn (Chris Lewis), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Nation Councillor and Spokesperson, added: “This anniversary and agreement represent a new chapter in the history of skwikw (also known as Whistler, ‘the place of the marmot’) and a shared commitment of reconciliation with the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations. It signals to the world that reconciliation has an essential economic component that fosters and realizes enhanced relationships between all levels of government, and that First Nations’ participation in economy and cultural initiatives, including economic development opportunities, is essential.”

Quick Facts

* On September 6, 1975, the Resort Municipality of Whistler was incorporated.

* The signed framework includes development opportunities for the Squamish and Líl̓wat Nations, including a land exchange between the Nations and the Resort Municipality of Whistler, and potential collaborations on employee housing.

* As a result of the agreement, a land exchange will take place between the Kadenwood land (Resort Municipality of Whistler owned) and the Emerald land (Nation owned).

* As part of the agreement, the requirement of ministerial approval of Whistler’s official community plan has been removed from the municipality’s planning process, making it consistent with local governments throughout British Columbia.

* Whistler’s official community plan was approved June 16, 2020, by the Province, with the support of the Squamish and Líl̓wat Nations and adopted by Council.