Alison M Gill* - Simon Fraser University
Drawing on recent work in evolutionary economic research, I focus on path creation - as opposed to the more established path dependency perspective - as the framework for understanding how, in a resort destination context, the shift from growth models to ones based on principles of sustainability are evolving. Path creation emphasizes the power of human agency by recognizing the influence of entrepreneurs and firms in shaping their environments and provides a way of understanding how entrepreneurs escape lock-in. In the case study of Whistler I examine the role of human agency and entrepreneurship associated with the co-hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The data are drawn from key informant interviews and secondary data sources such as media reports and municipal documents. The findings demonstrate how, at the time that the Olympic Games were awarded, local Whistler entrepreneurs were already engaged in "mindful deviation" by seeking to escape from the lock-in of existing growth models. Through their concerted effort they were able to persuade the local Olympic organizing committee to conform to the sustainability principles that the resort had developed. By negotiating various legacy agreements, most notably the construction of permanent quality housing for the Athletes Village, to subsequently be used as employee housing, Whistler's path towards sustainability was greatly accelerated.