During the Whitefish Planning Board hearing of Jan. 18 regarding the proposal for Fresh Life Church to construct a church on Central Avenue, a Whitefish residence commented that the church was inconsistent with the tourism brand and small town feel that is Whitefish.
That got me thinking about the Whitefish brand and what it is. It appears to me that the current Whitefish brand is about tourism. My conception of Whitefish is that it is a small town in northwestern Montana that has a ski area and a great lake. Historically the folks here have made their living working in the extraction, manufacturing and transportation industries.
Now with tourism it appears that we want to become a Disneyland for well-off, second-home and visiting white families.
The tourism industry encompasses low-paying, part-time and seasonally jobs and most with no benefits. This results in a workforce that can not afford to live here and in many cases has to rely on a government safety net to make ends meet.
I would like to see the city of Whitefish and along with the NIMBYS to encourage more commercial development in the extraction, manufacturing and transportation industries which would provide more jobs that pay a living wage and offer benefits. Additionally, to promote more high and medium density residential developments that would result in more supply of affordable housing for the working class.
The branding of Whitefish as a tourism mecca and less of a real working town promotes a socio-economic well-off enclave with the second-homers and well-off people being the preferred population, and with the tourism workers, who should be best moved off to the east to Columbia Falls or further afield.
John F. Connelly, Whitefish