While it seemed 2015 would vortex into the history books as the year our happy mountain home enjoyed a summer that made the winter look like the pathetic no-show it was, along comes November and December to remind us why Whistler may be a "Mountain" resort to the marketers but will always be a ski resort in every heart still addicted to slidin' on snow.
So what were the notable — and not-so notable — highlights of the year? Wouldn't be the year end without the Maxies, would it?
Life in the Mountains
Best On-Mountain Improvement: Hands down, SNOW! After a season(sic) spent largely skiing artisanal snow — man-made — the confluence of El Niño and The Blob, hereinafter referred to as El Bliño, brought tears to our eyes and powder skis out of storage. It may not be the best start ever but it's been way better than anything last season dished up until April.
Best Artisanal On-Mountain Improvement: So what do you get for your $5.4 million reno these days? Better flow, more seating, an airy atmosphere and a dark and stormy presence already dubbed the Death Star. The Rendezvous is relaunched with a skookum menu, great atmosphere and a revamped Christine's I can't wait to give a spin.
Best Quixotic Effort: WB bans smoking from its entire, Ponderosa-size property. As much as I hate cigarette smoke, why does this new rule evoke memories of the RMOW's anti-swearing bylaw?
WB Persons of the Year: The Groomers, hands down. What would we have skied without them? Honourable mention: Mike Douglas for doing the impossible with the inadequate — distilling the 50 year story of WB into 50 Years of Going Beyond.
Scariest Headline of the Year: Millennials are the big hope for the (ski) industry. Oh sweet Jesus.
Life in Politics
Person(s) of the Year: Politically, it's a toss-up. Anybody was the person of the year, as in Anybody but Harper. But the real face of victory belongs to Brigette DePape. Who? You'll probably remember her better as the senate page who disrupted the 2011 throne speech with her Stop Harper sign. Hell rained down on her young head but she created the dominant meme that swung this year's federal election.
High Times, I: The Federal Court of Appeal upheld a decision allowing medical marijuana users to continue to grow their own rather than buy from government monopoly pushers. Light one up for self-sufficiency.
High Times, II: The Whistler Medical Marijuana Company, Canada's first certified organic pot producer, received a renewal of its licence to grow its blissful bud. The RMOW approved it too... and then closed the door on anyone else wanting to help diversify Whistler's economy. One is the loneliest number.
High Times, III: Tiny Town's braintrust heads to Colorado where Her Honour NW-M explores the reality of retail marijuana. According to her most mayorness, she left the joint behind as a tip for the hotel housekeeper. Not even my parents would have believed that story.
I'll Drink to That: Ever one to dampen the spirits, the B.C. government April Fools all of us by finally unveiling their half-hearted attempt to update the province's antiquated liquor laws. Dubbed Temperance 2.0, the new rules, not surprisingly, put more money in the government's pocket while not appreciably lightening up on where, when and how we might have a tipple.
Take a Hike, eh?: A single letter to the RMOW gets the gears of local government grinding on the burning question, should some local trails be hiking only? Uh, no. What next? No dog trails? Left-handed only trails? Gluten-free trails? Lululemon-free trails?
Don't Take a Hike, eh?: And in a similar display of pique, far too many whiners — embarrassingly of a local nature — go apeshit when the RMOW drafts a bylaw threatening to fine hikers, bikers and dog walkers who just can't abide the Lost Lake trails being used by skinny skiers and snowshoers who pay to play for a few months of the year. Can we all just take a grown-up pill and chill out?
Get Rich; Problem Solved: The RMOW bans shipping containers from residential neighbourhoods. Too ugly. C'mon people, get with the program. Dig an illegal basement, or better yet excavate another house between yours and your neighbours, and the Muni will bend over backwards and turn the other cheek, so to speak, to look the other way.
Life in Tiny Town
Back Up the Rabbit Hole: After three cold, wet, hungry nights lost in the backcountry, Whistler Search and Rescue (WSAR) pull a grateful Julie Abrahamsen out of an impossible quagmire and back into a loving community, half of whom think she's an idiot and half of whom think those belonging to that half are the idiots. Whatever. A grateful daddy tosses $5K to WSAR for their heroic effort; no word whether Julie thought she was worth more than that.
Local Culture, Hold the Yogurt: Selected from thousands of submissions, Twisted Slipper, a short film by local legends Angie Nolan and Sharai Rewels, makes the cut for the Cannes Short Film Corner.
Local Culture, One Step Forward: While it may have seemed like a good idea at the time, there were two problems with MY Millennium Place. The name was going to seem dated for another 985 years and, well, no one knew what the heck it was. The Maury Young Arts Centre at least suggests it's about... Maury Young? No, the arts, silly.
Local Culture, One Step Back: After much consultation about everything, apparently, except the price, the RMOW floated its TUP 1.0 to let artists sell their art from their homes. After much hue and cry from artists complaining they were poor artists, er, impoverished artists, TUP 2.0 was launched. Time will tell whether there will be a 2.1.
Drive the Car. That's All, Just Drive the Car: Road closures on Highway 99 seem more frequent than snow storms. An alleged drunk kills two cyclists out for a Sunday morning ride. A drunken, tripping teen kills a hard-working limo driver and after the wheels of justice grind for over two years is sentenced to 18 months in jail. What the f#@k is the matter with you people?
Finding Our Better Angels: Mayor Nancy takes the bold initiative of challenging Whistler and other B.C. communities to step up and welcome refugee families. A surprising number of people answer the challenge. It ain't happened yet but there's too much momentum to stop it. Heartwarmingly the best of Canadian culture.
Of course, there were many more high and low points in 2015. Too many people gone too soon and too many deeds gone unrewarded and/or unpunished. Here's to a better 2016.
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