Hello Whistler. I have lived here with you for seven-plus years, and now it is time to go. Do you know who I am? Do you remember me?
I've stood next to you in line for thousands of coffees; double americano short, no lid, straight up. Can you picture me now? I've sat next to you on the bus, stood next to you at the taxi stand. "No, go ahead, you take that cab, I'll take the next one."
I've been run over by you at Nesters, and helped you step over the staff on the stairs at IGA, out for their afternoon smoke. Do you remember me now?
I was there with you on the patio all of them. Soaking up the sun, watching the world go by, wondering why they didn't stop and have a pint with us, and kind of glad they didn't!
We've played golf together you and I; and remember passing me during the Loonie race, the guy running with his bike on his shoulder and the chain around his neck? We've ridden up hundreds of chairs and gondolas together; can you see me now? We've swam together at Lost Lake; was that you on the dock? I think it was.
We cheered together for Ross when he returned with the gold, but I don't have his bumper sticker, do you? We cheered from the crowd when John Ryan returned from his journey. I was right next to you, don't you remember me there?
We drank beer together from a pitcher at Dusty's Last Stand, and again when we showed our hockey-challenged neighbours how to win gold. I've seen you naked in the streets, and naked again, dancing in the snow at Merlin's. I didn't join you, but I'm pretty sure I cheered!
I've fed you countless amounts of times. I truly hope you enjoyed your culinary experience; and I hope you told me if per chance you didn't.
I'm moving to a beach; I'll miss the snow, but I'll leave the rain for you. I will feel for you, honest I will!
Do you remember me now? Do you know who I am? I've been a part of your growth; a growth that will continue with or without me. Will you miss me once I'm gone? I don't think you will; but I will always remember you. Thanks for the ride.
There are many different levels of mountain bikers who ride in Whistler and Pemberton. Some riders may find Mels Dilemma challenging while others find Cop Killer a breeze. Most trails I've found have one or two challenges for even the best riders. Let's take Blood, Sweat and Fear for instance. There's the steep downhill section with the sharp, jagged, rocky left at the bottom. I've never been able to ride this section but thought with enough practice maybe some day I will.
Well you can imagine my disgust when I came to that rocky corner the other day and found that someone has taken, possibly a sledge hammer, and smashed the rocks to pieces. Sure it'll be an easier to ride now, but just because one person can't ride it, doesn't mean everyone can't. I watched a friend a few weeks ago (on his hardtail) ride that line smooth and clean.
I suggest next time you find a section too challenging for your abilities, you dismount your bike, hitch up your skirt and walk around it. If riding your bike was meant to be all easy, we'd pave the whole trail.
Once again, the Used Book Sale held over the May long weekend, was a great success! Over $3,700 was raised for the school libraries at Whistler Secondary and Spring Creek.
This was the fourth book sale in aid of the school libraries, and a total of almost $13,000 has now been raised. Books donated over the four sales which were suitable for the school libraries were also set aside. Countless have gone straight into Whistler Secondary library and over 1,000 donated children's books have now been processed, ready to go into Spring Creek school library. This translates into an additional input into the libraries worth thousands of dollars.
All this would not have been possible without the generous donations of the Whistler people. Thank you for filling up those donation boxes! Huge thank you's to IGA for allowing us to hold the sale in front of the store, and also Nesters Market and TD Canada Trust for being collection depots. The articles in the Whistler Question and Pique also contributed greatly to the sale's success. We could not have done it without all of you!
Once more, thanks go to the Rotary Club of Whistler Millennium for providing much needed hefting and transportation to set up the sale both days, in particular: Gordon McKeever, Len Van Leeuwen, John Richmond, Craig Killian, Garry Clifford, Jeff Maskell, Stephanie Matches and Bill Janyk. Thank you's also go out to those who helped sort the books and man the sale. Patti Walhovd, Lil Goldsmith, Terry Bruce, Libby McKeever, Kashi Richardsdon, Linda McGaw, Alison Hunter, Cindy Scullion, Jenny Roote, Angela Mellor, Bev Newell, Lynn Sparks and Barb Leigh.
Finally, thank you to all of you who came and bought books with your generous donations. Happy summer reading!
Thank you to Nesters
Nesters Market has once again been a great supporter of community events. On May 10, 2003 the Alta Lake School held its third annual May Fair Celebration. It was a wonderful day filled with craft making, puppet shows and may pole dancing. The outdoor barbeque was a huge success thanks to the generous donation from Nesters Market.
Thank you from the children, parents and faculty of the Alta Lake School.
Regarding the proposed changes to the 2003-04 school calendar (deleting 20 days from the school year in attempt to save $250,000), I would like to put forth another option or two for the school board's consideration.
Based on what I have read and heard in presentations and discussions with officials, I understand that much of the budgetary cutbacks are necessary as a result of the added cost of opening and operating the new Spring Creek elementary school in Whistler. The message I'm hearing is that the funding the district receives is based on students, not schools, and while the number of students in the district will remain roughly the same, there will be one more school to fund with no extra money.
Clearly the new school is not coming at a great time, given the cutbacks in education funding, and schools throughout the province being forced to close their doors. I was also alarmed to hear at a PAC meeting over a year ago that Spring Creek school was more than half a million dollars over budget, and ground hadn't even been broken yet! How does this happen?
To make matters worse, there are many Whistler parents who are strongly opposed to sending their children to Spring Creek school, particularly those of us who live in neighbourhoods adjacent to or north of Myrtle Philip, yet we are now required to go five times the distance to Spring Creek (at the southernmost end of the valley) in order to balance the school numbers and justify its existence.
Let me spell this out loud and clear: WE DO NOT WANT TO SEND OUR CHILDREN TO SPRING CREEK SCHOOL! Lest there be any doubt about this, kindly pull out the petitions signed by so many parents last year. Our feelings haven't changed. I, for one, could not feel more strongly about this, having bought in Spruce Grove a year and a half ago, primarily for its easy access to Myrtle Philip School, and shortly before all this boundary controversy began.
The solution seems obvious: Put Spring Creek School on hold for now, at least until:
1. the population base (from Creekside south) is there to justify it and,
2. the money is there to pay for it.
Don't penalize every student in the district by further compromising their already heavily compromised education by 20 days. And don't force Whistler children to attend a school that is so far beyond the existing school it's ridiculous! (I'm quite certain that if any member of the school board were actually affected by this outrageous catchment decision, it never would have been made in the first place.)
One other option, and I suggested this at your board meeting of March 2002, is to open Spring Creek school in phases. The school is still in the construction phase, shooting (optimistically) for an Oct. 15 opening. Complete and open only that part of the school which can accommodate those within reasonable proximity (i.e.: from Creekside south), and divert the balance of the student funding back to Myrtle Philip, keeping some of the portables until such time as the numbers balance sufficiently on their own. I realize this is not the basis on which the new school got the green light, but the board has a serious problem on its hands, and maybe it's time to go back to the bargaining table, acknowledge it, and come up with some reasonable alternatives.
I also understand that Intrawest was keen enough to have a school in Spring Creek that they provided the land at no charge (thus the location, which currently serves a minority of Whistler families). Certainly the prospect of a new neighbourhood school enhances real estate sales and values in their Spring Creek development. But the entire school district is in dire financial straits, in no small part as a result of this expensive new school. Maybe Intrawest would consider reaching a little deeper into its well-lined pockets and coming up with some additional funding, so that our kids' education can remain intact, and students can attend their real "neighbourhood school."
Re: Whistler Property Taxes Applied to Permanent Resident Home Owners
I was very pleased to read the progress made by Gary Watson and his associates in getting us additional Home Owner Grants and the small reduction to the school tax component. While this is a step towards fairness in tax policy in the Sea to Sky corridor, on a more pragmatic basis there are more steps we can take to ease the tax-load on permanent resident homeowners.
As I understand it our problems in general are as follows:
1. High increases in property value assessments recognize our very successful resort and community.
2. The high assessments are leading to large overall tax increases primarily from the school tax component which is formula based. (The municipal portion of the property tax is driven by services and programs to run our town and the assessments do not play much role in increasing the tax load.)
3. Incomes in general are not increasing to the same degree as property values. This causes people to consider leaving town because of our high cost of living and very high taxes. This is harmful to our community.
4. Whistler pays some 90 per cent of the school tax collected in School District 48, but I have read, receives far less in the resultant spending than our neighbours. What the hell is this? As a parent I am very concerned about the resources available to our hard working schools in Whistler, and this must be addressed.
Problem #1 is a reflection of reality and if anything assessments appear to be low. Problem #3 dealing with incomes is not connected to property values. Problem #4, which is a core issue here in Whistler, is hard to really deal with until we get the Problem #2 wolf away from the door. I have a suggestion on now we can deal with the wolf.
The provincial government recognizes our quandary but, politically, cannot easily give tax relief to high net worth taxpayers. The political argument is that it's not fair to say to a B.C. taxpayer in Powell River suffering from low income and modest home value because of economic straits, that tax bills will be forgiven for those poor people in Whistler with their $1million + homes. The problem is that our incomes are low too, on average lower than Squamish, and while the million-dollar home may have equity, the value is locked up. This turns the property tax into a wealth or capital tax, which is regressive and is forcing long term residents to leave our town.
So how do we unlock the value in our homes? In other words, how do I get to stay here with this huge tax bill?
The province already has a program for seniors over age 60 to defer property taxes until the sale of their home. I suggest we consider Whistler's own program for deferral of property taxes to be applied at least to the school tax portion of our tax bill, until the home is sold or the taxpayer chooses to pay down the outstanding balance.
The features for this Program would be as follows:
Eligibility includes all permanent resident homeowners. I read that the increased homeowner grants would affect 2,500 residents. If we have a population of 10,000 (last census I think was about 7,500), that suggests one in four residents own their own home, which seems high. I will use a sample of 2,000 applicants to assess the impact. This considers that seniors over 60 have their own programs, employee housing has a much smaller load to bear, and not everyone will take advantage of the program.
Average school tax amount for deferral is estimated at $2,000. Applicants will have to show minimum equity in their homes of 25 per cent of assessed value after deducting registered mortgages and other charges.
All applicants will have a Tax Account. They may not choose to defer every year. The Account can be paid down in whole or part any time with no penalty.
In the first year the overall amount would be 2,000 applicants x $2,000 = $4 million. This Pool can be financed by the local bank/credit union with the municipal guarantee and an assignment of the Tax Account charge on the home title.
The interest rate charged on Whistler's Millennium Place is Prime less 1 per cent or at present 4 per cent. At 4 per cent the average applicant plays $80 for this year instead of $2,000 in school taxes.
If the average home is owned for 10 years, the Pool might grow to $4 million x 10 years or $40 million. This is actually high, as it assumes no homes are sold during the 10 year period and new owners may or may not apply for the program.
If the average home were owned for 20 years, the Pool would be $80 million. Whistler's financial position is over $200 million, so the Pool is not out of scale with Whistler's capacity.
The average taxpayer would pay therefore an annual interest fee of $80 in year 1, or $800 in year 10 (Tax Account of 10 x $2,000 = $20,000). If interest rates rise to 10 per cent, the bill would be $2,000 in year 10, or equal to what's deferred. But this kind of theoretical problem can be handled creatively by the RMOW as the Pool grows with longer term fixed financing on parts of the Pool. At some level, some or all interest can be capitalized and deferred.
After 20 years at current rates, with the $40,000 Tax Account accumulated to $40,000, the interest cost would be $1,600. This is still below the deferred amount.
I think we should take a hard look at this Plan. The financial institutions seek this kind of public sector debt because it doesn't tie up capital reserves. The RMOW can administer the Program for fairness and control. The interest rate can be re-negotiated regularly and the Pool financing assessed as well. Everyone will have to analyze their own situation.
The plan needs to be refined. It could include all or a portion of all taxes. It could include the capitalizing or deferral of all or a portion of applicable interest.
I should point out that I am 60 years old next year and will be applying for the Provincial Plan. I would love to see our locals get some further means of de-fusing our high tax problem. The province should see this step as a fair compromise as no tax is forgiven but people get a chance to use considerable tied-up home equity to pay tax when that equity becomes available on the sale of the house. As recognition of our entrepreneurial approach to a problem they recognize but can't fix, maybe the provincial government would like to back-stop our Pool financing . Maybe they would like to pay the interest!
Anyway, the key issue here is that Whistler maintains control over its future instead of having to go begging to a higher level of government.
The Whistler-Blackcomb Foundation would like to sincerely thank Paul Vacirca and Declan Wolfe for taking time out of their busy lives to organize the Whistler Valley Trail Run held on Sunday. It was a great turnout for a rainy day and a lot of fun. We greatly appreciate that you chose us as the beneficiary again this year. We will distribute the funds wisely.
We also thank all the runners and volunteers who came out to contribute to this very worthy event. Thanks again so much for your support!"
Dave Brownlie, President
Louise Lundy, Executive Director
This message goes out to the low lifes who think stealing is okay.
You stole a few bikes from our house on the night of the 26th, I hope the wheels fall off. That probably won't happen though because I am a bike mechanic and take very good care of my equipment.
Did you think that I can afford to buy another bike? You are wrong, that Specialized Big Hit wasn't even mine yet I still owe the guy I was buying it from.
As for the other two bikes, it must feel like a real coup for you to be sneaky enough to get away with three bikes. I am not a violent person so all I can do is sit back and wait for karma to take its toll on you and your buddies. Trust me it will because I work in a bike shop and all my mechanic friends feel the same way about bike theft as I do. Hope you don't break something you can't fix!
There are more eyes looking for our bikes than just mine, so hope it is me that finds you cause I'll just take the bike back and let the police know what you look like, I can't really say what one of my friends might do.
Happy riding; may the rubber always be up and your face in the dirt, painfully I might add.
Last Thursdays great presentation by "The Bat Guy," Dr. Mark Brigham, marks the end of the first year of the Whistler Naturalists monthly Speaker Series. During that time over 1,200 people have enjoyed 12 shows at MY Place spanning a huge range of natural history topics.
Some highlights include: Jack Southers volcanoes, Steve Herreros bears, John Fords orcas, and the 1st annual Mountain Images slide show last September (watch for the upcoming second annual!). Another highlight was The Bat Guys presentations last week to 90 rapt elementary students at Myrtle Philip (organized by Marie-France Dubois) and Shelley Websters high school science class. Showing more of the natural world to Whistlers young people is a key direction for next years Speakers Series.
We have a lot of people to thank for helping put these shows together. Thanks to the Community Foundation of Whistler and a Resort Municipality of Whistler Grant-in-Aid for funding. Thanks to Gordon McKeever at Rainbow Retreats Accommodations for putting our guest speakers up in style, and to Whistler-Blackcomb for donating lift tickets so that our guests could enjoy the mountains.
Thanks to Matt and all the volunteer videographers at Whistler Cable for filming the shows, and to Christian, Gillie, Rob, Lynn and Tonya at MY Place. Thanks also to the Whistler Golf Club and the Pemberton Valley Golf Club for making sure our gondola-phobic visitors last week got two great rounds of golf.
The Speaker Series kicks off again in August and will have shows at MY Place on the fourtth Thursday of each month through next May. Some events planned for the next season include ethnobotanist Nancy Turner (August), the second annual Mountain Images Nature Photo Exhibition (September), and Octobers FungoFest (everything mushroomy). For details, check the upcoming event section at the bottom of the NatureSpeak column in this paper, or contact us to get on our mailing list.
June 17, 2013, 5:00 PM
Social services, church and housing being built by Sea to Sky Community Service and United Church More...
June 17, 2013, 11:15 AM
Market opens with vendor numbers at maximum More...
June 16, 2013, 12:30 AM
67-kilometre mountain bike race sees 871 racers at the start More...