The sun has been shining on our mountain town; people are pottering in their gardens, tuning their bikes and catching some rays while out for strolls and runs.
In this fifth installment of our Feel-Good Stories From Whistler series, we hear from Whistler Off Road Cycling Association’s executive director on spring biking, find out more about Whistler’s Stay@Home Gala and highlight a local transport company that has switched gears to help their community and keep their employees working.
Love for Our Trails
Whistler’s cross-country trail network has started to emerge from the snow and the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association (WORCA) crew are out and about ensuring the trails are ready and safe to use.
WORCA’s executive director, Trevor Ferrao, advises people to use Trailforks for up-to-date trail information and look for the green and all clear messaging on open trails. He also asks that if you spot any issues, like deadfall blocking the trail, to report it via Trailforks so that the WORCA team can take a look.
If you know you’ll be hitting up the trails in the future (for biking, running or hiking) then consider a 2020 membership ($60 for an adult), these funds help the volunteer-run organization maintain the network we all love to use. They’re receiving reduced funding this year, so every contribution counts.
Although it’s so tempting to get the crew together for a lengthy ride, physical distancing measures are still in place. Don’t push your limits, the emergency and medical services do not need the extra pressure, stay within the trail system of the community you live in (if you’re in Whistler, don’t travel to Pemberton and Squamish and vice versa) and only ride with others in your household (if you ride solo, make sure someone knows your plan).
If you need some help with your bike maintenance, take a look at Whistler.com’s business list for what’s open and operating in Whistler; at the writing of this post, Coast Culture Sports and Evolution are both options.
Stay@Home Gala in Whistler
Thousands of Canadians will gather (virtually) on Saturday, May 2 at 5 PM for an evening gala designed to unite people across the country and raise funds for their individual communities. Whistler has a goal of $50,000 for the Whistler Community Foundation’s Emergency Fund for COVID 19, which supports local organizations like the Whistler Community Services Society Food Bank and Howe Sound Women’s Centre.
The soiree includes a pre-show with local band, Rebel Appliance (who will be taking requests via Zoom Chat), an hour of national performances with Juno Award and Polaris Prize-nominated singer Tanika Charles and electronic music duo, Once A Tree (more TBA). Then from 6 – 7 PM it’s over to the Whistler musicians with Rachel Lewis, Jenna Mae, Ev Kinsella, with others still being added to the lineup. You can make your own dinner, grab take-out, or get something special delivered while you take in the entertainment.
This is social distancing at its finest. Don your glitzy togs, log on to Zoom and dine together. Tickets start at $25 per person and can be purchased online, your ticket gets you access to the national and local shows as well as being a tax-receipted donation.
A Whistler Connection
In the middle of March, when Whistler Blackcomb announced it was shutting down operations due to COVID-19, Dan Harmon, general manager of local transport company Whistler Connection, realized this new reality was going to hit his company and team hard. They’d have to adapt, and they needed to do it fast, but first, they needed to get people home.
His team rallied, they dropped prices, waived excess luggage fees and used larger vehicles than necessary (for distancing) to get over 1,000 people safely to the airport as quickly as they could. Then, like many other business owners, Dan had the depressing task of laying off a large percentage of his workforce.
However, he was able to bring some team members back as they pivoted to switch out the delivery of people for the delivery of products. They refitted five of their vehicles and connected with SPUD, an online grocery delivery company, as well as the Bearfoot Bistro, and Dan is now busy building to this list and taking on new clients.
“Now is the time to try something new,” says Harmon. “Explore every idea that every member of your team has ever had; tour products, local services, commercial services. We have to expand our minds beyond the tourism realm to find other sources of revenue. Not just for the current circumstances, but to build resilience and prepare for a different return, for a market that will have a different set of spending habits.”
RMU Soup Kitchen
Although their doors aren’t currently open, their hearts certainly are – the team at RMU Blackcomb are running weekly soup kitchens on Fridays and Saturdays from 4 – 7 PM where people who need a bowl of something warm and comforting can stop by and grab one free of charge, no questions asked.
Whistler Creekside Market donates the produce and the team at RMU donates their time cooking and safely ladling out the soup. An act of generosity that heats hearts and bellies.
Whistler Live and The Hairfarmers Raise $130,000
Over the past two months, Andrew Bacon, Matthew Carson and Glenn Mishaw of Whistler Live, along with local cover band The Hairfarmers, have donated their time and talents to raise over $130,000 (in conjunction with the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation) for local food banks in Whistler, Pemberton and Squamish through three online shows.
If you are in a position to donate to a local food bank please visit Feed The Need.
As crocuses and daffodils poke their colourful heads out of the snow, people are starting to think about their gardens and vegetable patches. Gardening is therapeutic and rewarding; there’s nothing like seeing a little seedling take off so you can put the literal fruits of your labour on the table for dinner.
If you’re in need of some gardening supplies you’ll be happy to know that Whistler’s gardening stores are open. The Garden Shop at High Country (Mons Road) is open every day from 10 AM – 5 PM and Whistler Garden Centre (Function Junction) is open 10 AM – 4 PM, Tuesday through Sunday. Both stores will ask people to wait and keep browsing time to a minimum in order to adhere to current health and safety advisories.
Patience. Something we all need right now. One Whistler photographer who has this in abundance caught something beautiful with his lens this week, proving that good things come to those who wait.
Like you, we’re passionate about exploring Whistler, but now is not the time to travel. Please stay home and follow the advice of health authorities to keep yourself and others safe.
If you follow our social media channels, you’ll notice we’re continuing to share photos of Whistler. We hope to inspire feelings of calm and happiness during a time when we all need it most.