Blanket policy on communications needs second look 

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Like most great plans involving lots of people, all of whom have different responsibilities at different times — getting together for a meeting was like herding cats.

But once under way, over an hour late, the tour recently of municipal facilities by council and a few members of the press quickly settled down to all business.

Municipal staff and a representative of BC Transit were peppered with questions during the tour around what has come to be known as "garage mahal."

Top of mind for the councillors on the tour — which was nearly all of them — was how the facility, built to last 40 years, was going to be sustainable after the contract to run the hydrogen bus pilot project ends in 2014. There were also pointed questions about the paving of a wetland area to build the hydrogen facility at the province's direction, and relief when it was learned that an agreement is in its final stages with BC Hydro to manage the lands behind the transit facility so it can't be developed any further.

A councillor suggested, supported by our mayor, that BC Transit look again at allowing residents to carry a reasonable amount of garbage on the bus — and maybe even their dogs.

A pilot project perhaps? It's a tricky issue as some residents might abuse it leaving bus drivers or cleaners to deal with messy refuse or perhaps even spills on the bus during regular hours, said a transit representative.

And what about light pollution from the facility, an oft-mentioned concern for residents, asked the mayor? No change there she learned.

Questions hard and soft were lobbed. But throughout it all there was a feeling that both sides were there to learn. Councillors weren't on the offensive, though they were more than casually curious, and municipal staff was clearly proud of their works yards, machinery, the rows of parts and inventory carefully stored, the compactor sites, even the new fish by-pass channel at Spruce Grove.

Who would have thought building a fish-bypass channel would be plagued by politics — but plagued it was — from the provincial end.

The channel was built as part of the rehabilitation work that must be done as compensation required by the provincial government for the gravel clearing done in Fitzsimmons Creek, which in turn is tied to the flood protection of the village.

One didn't get the feeling that staff and council were on opposite sides of the table on the tour, though it's clear that last year leading up to the municipal election that staff was on edge.

The Whistler grapevine also tells us that staff is still on edge as a review continues.

Last week we learned that the general manager of policy and program development's position had been eliminated. Workers inside that department are being re-positioned — many I am sure are wondering what now.


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