Town Council Unifies Around Vail's Stewardship Roadmap

The 10-year plan aims to strengthen the community, foster a more resilient visitor economy, and steward the natural environment

In a unanimous vote, the Vail Town Council adopted Vail's Stewardship Roadmap by resolution Tuesday evening, completing a 17-month planning process driven by extensive community engagement. More than 3,000 opinions were shared in engagement sessions and surveys.

The 10-year plan spells out a new "community-positive" focus for the town on the heels of celebrations to mark its founding as a ski resort 60 years ago. While recognizing that tourism is the town's lifeblood, the Roadmap states that a strong tourism economy also requires a strong community and that the purpose of tourism is to support the town's remarkable way of life.

The new Roadmap is designed to complement other Vail plans and lay the groundwork for a broader community visioning plan in the future. The 47-page document spells out an ambitious vision for Vail to be "the world's premier sustainable mountain resort community, renowned for its quality of life, inspiring experiences for all, and stewardship of nature."

Generating intensive community support throughout the planning process was an action to "Make Vail More Livable," which spells out a goal of doubling the supply of deed-restricted homes by 2033 to address a housing crisis that threatens every almost aspect of community life. The plan calls for expanding the supply of homes for residents and workers from 1,050 to 2,100 through collaboration and strategies generating ongoing funding for more housing. The town already is acting on this resolve with the soon-to-open Residences at Main Vail and an innovative public-private partnership to redevelop Timber Ridge.

The plan's 40 strategies also include initiatives to analyze Vail's carrying capacity to manage demands, foster local entrepreneurship, explore new venues to support year-round cultural and community experiences, broaden local access to the world-class experience, and consider founding an iconic thought leadership event to advance mountain tourism sustainability.

The Roadmap offers a new definition of "community," aimed at fostering unity in a place where nearly 5,000 full-time residents welcome 2.5 million visitors a year and about 60 percent of homes are occupied by seasonal residents. The definition extends to anyone "who cares about Vail," whether a full- or part-time resident, a worker or a visitor. Even the town's wildlife is included.

To create the plan, Vail selected a first-time consortium of three leading tourism organizations. Better Destinations of Denver and MMGY NextFactor of Vancouver shared overall project leadership. The Travel Foundation, an international NGO focused on improving impacts of tourism, led work to analyze the town's sustainability practices and recommend future actions to advance stewardship.

Next steps are focused on the implementation plan for each of the five actions, and the 40 resulting strategies. Town departments will be focused on resourcing the strategies that are identified for 2024 and building appropriate tactics into their operating plans. The actions and strategies will also be built into a dashboard that will be available to the public later this year.

The town's lead for the project was Mia Vlaar, Director of Economic Development, with support from Kristen Bertuglia, Director of Sustainability. Also playing a key role in the planning process were the town's six key community partners: the U.S. Forest Service, Vail Resorts, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, Vail Recreation District, Holy Cross Energy, and Walking Mountains Science Center of Avon.

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