Letters to the editor for the week of March 3rd 

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Fond farewell

I would like to thank Alison Taylor for her 15-plus years reporting local news for this paper.

Word has it she is stepping away from Pique Newsmagazine to focus on freelance and feature writing. While we'll still see her byline from time to time, there is no question she will be missed.

Alison was always objective, professional and fair, an exceptional journalist by any standard. She always managed to walk the fine line between doing her often-underappreciated job of covering municipal hall while also maintaining good relationships with her subjects.

That's not an easy balancing act, but she managed it better and longer than anyone.

For most journalists, it's not about getting a job, but finding a way you can help make a difference. In her distinguished, award-winning career, Alison has certainly made a difference, covering Whistler through ups and downs, periods of growth and stagnation, goods times and bad.

She helped make sense of complex issues, told both sides of controversies, asked the right probing questions, looked deeper to find the stories behind the stories, and put everything in context for readers.

Thank you Alison, for everything.

Andrew Mitchell

Whistler

Waste of money?

I will keep this brief — $35,000 for some signs at the (pointlessly) renamed arts centre? (The proposed 2016 budget document outlines the expenditure of the money for new signs at the renamed Maury Young Arts Centre.)

Are these signs made out of gold? Another fantastic waste of public money by the municipality. I wonder who is making these and how it was tendered, as that's ridiculous. 

Ed Davies

Whistler

Get to The Point

On behalf of the many locals and visitors who have thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the events held at The Point Artist-Run Centre, we'll get straight to the point — in fact if you haven't gotten to The Point yet, there is good reason to do so.

The Point Artist-Run Centre offers our community the opportunity to participate in and benefit from an experience quite unlike any other.

For anyone interested in arts, culture and music, their programs offer patrons a great way to share an afternoon or evening at this classic heritage venue, run by local artists and supported by the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

We would like to offer a very sincere tip of the hat and toast to all of those who make these programs happen, including the artists, volunteers, sponsors, audience members, and the RMOW for their support.

We wish The Point great success in continuing to build on the unique community arts centre they have developed so far. It is truly an off-the-beaten-path cultural gem to be discovered by locals and visitors alike.

Mark Beaven, Shelia Sherkat, Bruce Stewart, Lisa Geddes, Cathy Jewett, Joan Richoz, Arthur DeJong, Erica and Peter Durlacher, Isobel MacLaurin, Doti Niedermeyer, and Stella and Dave Harvey

Whistler

Thinking of others

Families Fighting Cancer In The Sea To Sky would like to thank Stan Kranjc for his very generous donation. 

Stan was the 2015 winner of the Whistler Cup Manulife Volunteer Award.

Stan chose Families Fighting Cancer In The Sea To Sky as the recipient of his $1,000 award. A heartfelt thank-you to Stan for supporting local families living with cancer!

Michelle Williamson and Lisa Geddes

Whistler

Reality far from fantasy

As a periodic reader of Pique, and visitor to Whistler from the Fraser Valley, I am always struck by irony of the pronouncements of columnist David Suzuki — arch eco and anti-petroleum crusader.

I presume his column runs in your paper because he finds some "resonance" among your "sporty" readership which sees itself as "natural" or "ecologically righteous," but the reality is quite far from this fantasy.

Whistler, like all resort towns in Canada and around the world, is even more dependent on fossil fuels then most cities. Whistler exists as it does today solely because of a copious flow of fossil fuels and a veritable armada of petroleum-powered cars/planes/buses/trains bringing visiting customers and workers daily and weekly to your town.

Please don't confuse living in low density and "closer" to wilderness with being "ecologically" sound. 

Also, with regard to electrical systems, you'd never know it from Suzuki's willful silence on the matter in his column, but B.C. already has perhaps the greenest, lowest-carbon, "solar" electricity in the world, but we just happen to call it "hydro" electricity here.

B.C. is powered 92 per cent-plus by hydro-electricity. It is "solar" in the true sense, because the sun still drives the hydrologic cycles that brings the world's precipitation to fall on our glorious mountains in the form of rain and snow, filling our lakes and streams. It is renewable and it has been serving us reliably for over 100 years.

I am tiring of the mindlessly repeated mantras of "solar and wind," implying only photovoltaics (PVs) and windmills as the panaceas to the world's energy needs when in fact these are not workable in every situation.

In the Fraser Valley the sun does not shine from October to March (we are cloudy, rainy and dark) and I have never seen the windmill atop Grouse Mountain turning.

PV's are still "manufactured" products, invariably made in vast and polluting industrial zones of China, U.S. or Germany, they are made of mined and sometime scarce materials, and their foreign manufacture threatens to supplant made-in-B.C. energy solutions, currently employing hundreds and thousands of British Columbians.

Rick Halas

Maple Ridge

A gala to remember

The second annual Myrtle Philip Community School Parent Advisory Council Snowball Gala & Auction was a great success on Friday, Feb. 26!

Teachers, staff and parents ate, danced, chatted, laughed and bid on many amazing silent auction items.

Thanks-you to all who attended and bid so generously. The final tally is still being calculated, but it appears that this event once again has raised about $7,500 for our school community.

Big shout out to Shauna Hardy Mishaw, Roxanne Cave, Jen Black and Kerri Stewart for organizing the event. Special thanks to Kathleen Cunningham, Jane Moran, Melissa Perizzolo, Lee Schwartz, Jodi Carter, Heidi Denessen and Heather Paul for setting up the silent auction, and to Ellie Irwin, Emma Bayliffe and Kathleen Holton for working the event.

Thank you to Coast Mountain Photography for the popular photo booth, and DJ Ira Pettle for the fab dancing tunes.

Thank you to Nicklaus North and Jenn Vagg for the stunning venue and amazing service, and to Lee Lee for the beautiful balloon display. And a huge thank you to all our silent auction donors for their generosity.

We can't wait until next year!

Kerri Stewart

MPCS PAC Executive

Permits for home-based artist's studios

It is always perilous to be away, in my case to run off to sea.

However, one does not expect the home base to sink. I did not expect to return to Whistler to find that our municipal councillors would have sunk as low as to engage in defining what kind of art and artists we should allow in our town, nor to charge them for the privilege.

Whistler does not look the better for it.

I have been informed that we now require our municipal general manager (GM) to "consider the impact of the artist's (work) on cultural tourism development," and "consider the quality and extent of Whistler's inventory of cultural assets."

To help the GM, council intends to establish an advisory committee to advise "on whether objects proposed to be produced have artistic or aesthetic merit, are artfully or skillfully made, and are original."

This is not just the consideration of art that the municipality might buy to decorate the village or municipal buildings, but any art made in Whistler that is for sale to the general public from home based studios.

I would hope that no well-informed locals would be willing to serve on this art and cultural police force. They would be discussing "artistic and aesthetic merit" without, one can assume, much training in what this means. I'm also quite sure our (otherwise competent) GM is in no better position to assess creative art than anyone else. Being contractually bound to take on the job does not put him in any better position to do so.

The wonderful collection in our new Audain Art Museum contains many pieces of art that would not have passed muster of any such art police at the time.

Many of those pieces from the early 20th century were originally seen as (perhaps interesting) junk — not art — and they were often described as grotesque pieces.

Collectors took much from our coast, and some of it was rejected by the museums they collected for. The cream of it all is in Chicago and Boston. The rest mostly just disappeared.

A short read of B.C. history shows just how Victoria viewed Emily Carr's work; she was "unnoticed, unappreciated, or often treated with ridicule and even hostility."

Some of her work is now a priceless part of the Audain collection. Fortunately there was no art police. I can find no mention that she was required to have a business license.

In the 1980s I had the privilege of sharing some meaningful experiences with Bill Reid, Tak Tanabe, Gordon Smith, and Robert Davidson. All have pieces in the Audain. Of course, because I had time with these folk, I got to chat with others whose work we now have in our community.

I knew Bill the best because I got the most time with him, and because we also were introduced to Bill Ellis, his first art dealer. Reid's work was first seen, too, as uninteresting junk. Today he is seen as the person who reinstated West Coast native art to the pedestal it deserves and the inspiration to many who have followed.

His first prints he mostly gave away. Bill Ellis suggested he raise the price to make them appear more valuable. His early jewelry was seen as copies of Edenshaw's work, which were in turn seen as baubles. Pieces valued today above $100,000 were given to the recipient at the price of the materials.

Reid's most important lenspiece for artistic merit he called (after Robert Pirsig) Q – roughly, the care and thought that went into the work. He advised apprentices to throw out their own work if they had missed on their own assessment of the Q in the piece.

A committee of art police would have rejected the early Bill Reid. At some level the same is true for other artists, whose works we now get to call ours. Tanabe's work has been called too fuzzy with no content, Gordon Smith as reckless, Tony Onley as incomplete. These artists works are in the Audain collection here in Whistler.

None of these artists saw their early work as a business that might require a license. Artists seldom see their calling as being in business. Some do not even care if anyone likes the art, only perhaps that their message can get out to the public. In some cases the artist actually confronts aspects of the current culture and does not care if there is a selling price.

This is true for the work of one part-time Whistler artist, who has recently exhibited in London after a long showing in Vancouver. By the way, some of his work uses explosive devices to initiate the art piece (not skillfully made, you might say). Recently he has commanded more than $20,000 for some of his work, pieces he did for the love of art rather and without any business profit in mind.

Do we want artists in "home-based studios?"

The above artists all started somewhere simple, usually at home. There was wisdom in early councils' move to have worker rental accommodation spread throughout our valley. Why would we want to discourage the same diversity with artists? It is wonderful to have an artist or two in my neighbourhood.

Certainly none of us should be concerned if they can successfully earn a living from their art, or just make it possible to live in this quite expensive town. You don't have to look far to find these people are also contributors to the community in other positive ways. How do we justify charging them $750 per year to stay here and be artists?

I don't know where the pressure for this bylaw came from. If it was gallery owners then — shame on them for not understanding the nature of — and history — of artists. If it came from within the hall, let's get on with more meaningful goals. I thought we wanted to foster art!

It is the overall desire of the community to expand cultural tourism. We should be building on our good fortune of gaining an outstanding collection. Now let's put out ideas to attract artists. This draconian bylaw does the opposite.

Please councillors, revisit this badly thought out bylaw. Personally I don't hesitate to call it garbage. Throw it out. It is beneath you as councillors and makes our town look trivial — even cheap — when it is not.

Alan G. Whitney

Whistler

Benched!

In 2002 my mother-in-law Betty Nicoll, known to all as "MB," died. She had been a regular visitor to Whistler since 1975 when John and I moved to Canada.

She had great friends here and was a strong community supporter. She loved Whistler with its lakes and mountains and in her memory we purchased a "Memorial Bench" situated at the far end of Lost Lake looking up the mountains that she so loved.

We hosted a "Bench Warming" at the installation in September and a group of friends and family walked to the bench to remember MB and celebrate her life. She would have been 90 in September of 2002. Our family Christmas card that year recorded this event.

We have continued to visit her at her bench on anniversaries and whenever we walk the trails, but always in September on her birthday — her 100th was a major event!

When we purchased the memorial bench there was no timeframe specified. We did ask about the maintenance, but we were informed that this would be taken care of by the municipality to ensure conformity.

The municipality initiated the bench program as a way to ensure that there were seating areas throughout the valley in approved places. The cost at the time was $1,500 and included a small plaque, the bench and installation. We assumed the bench would always be there.

A few years ago we inquired about a second bench and were informed that the program was under review and that following due consultation we would be informed of the outcome.

At no time were we consulted about ideas for the new program and there was no public meeting, to my knowledge, at which this was discussed.

(Editor's note: The memorial bench program was considered by officials at a public council meeting in May 2013.)

Last week we received a letter informing us that our "bench time" was up — 15 years was deemed its lifetime.

Our existing bench would now be removed and our plaque would be returned to us and if we wished, we could have the bench as well! Our only option was to pay for an entirely new bench that would be of a durable material that will not need upkeep and we could have our plaque on it for 10 years at a cost of $3,000.

I am sure that I speak for many of us who have been a part of this program when I say that its not really the bench that is at stake here but the memories that connect it to the people or events commemorated and their connection to the community of Whistler.

There are benches throughout the valley that memorialize great Whistlerites and just ordinary folk — community leaders, teachers, friends, spouses, athletes, family members and help to not forget anniversaries and special events.

I hope that those of you who receive a letter like ours will let mayor and council know that we would like this program revisited and some consideration given to the existing owners with regards to ongoing upkeep or replacement of these very special memorial benches.

The Nicoll Family

Whistler

Survey thanks

The Communities That Care (CTC) board would like to express gratitude to the 868 local residents who filled out the Young Adult Survey we ran this past month.

This survey details the social and lifestyle habits of our young adult population and will provide invaluable information on how to support this demographic, in addition to our youth, into the future.

We believe that our response rate is about 27.5 per cent of the 18- to 30-year-old population (using the last census data).

The RMOW made this possible by endowing a Community Enrichment Grant to support the survey and the data interpretation.

Thank you to our sponsors, your generous prizes contributed to the success of the survey: The Adventure Group, Gibbons Life, Canadian Snowmobile, Ziptrek, Skiis & Bikes, Starbucks, Nesters Market, Creekside Market, the Whistler RCMP detachment and Whistler Blackcomb, Megan Watkins is the winner of our grand prize for a day with Whistler heli-skiing.

Our CTC Board will now oversee the data interpretation and have a final report by late spring. We will be looking for program sponsors to fit the needs that the survey results will prioritize.

Thank you to Graham from LUNA and the staff at Whistler Blackcomb Staff Housing for enthusiastically promoting the survey and the obvious passion for their work.

Thank you to our local papers, the Pique and the Question, for telling our story.

Finally, thank you to the members of the CTC board for your great teamwork — pulling together, sharing the load and caring.

Cathy Jewett, Chair

Communities That Care Whistler

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