While there is usually a sense of nostalgia at the end of the year, 2009 may be one year that people want to forget. It's the end of a decade that began with much hype and hysteria, but the end of the world never happened and Y2K was a bust. Then there was a stolen election, followed by an unspeakable act of terrorism, followed by eight years of war on a noun.
And 2008 ended on such a high note, too, with the election of Barack Obama and his message of "Hope," and an economic crisis that appeared to be under control. If nothing else 2009 was supposed to be a chance to start over, a fresh slate, a new beginning.
But Obama turned out to be more of a centrist, which if you paid attention is kind of what he said.
So far, despite authoring one of the biggest economic collapses in history, only a handful of ponzi schemers have gone to jail in the U.S. or Canada. Meanwhile the same banks and companies that wiped out trillions in wealth and millions of jobs are back to posting obscene profits and bonuses, while the weak regulatory system that allowed the collapse to happen in the first place hasn't been shored up in the slightest. There was no closure, no blame assigned and nothing has been done to guard us against the next inevitable bubble and economic collapse. Unemployment remains high as we shift into 2010 and could ultimately drag this "recovery" on for years.
The environment and climate change were somehow dropped from the global To Do list, and the most recent climate conference in Copenhagen was a bust.
Locally, it's been a tough year in a lot of ways for both employers and employees. This summer the Whistler Food Bank filled a record number of bags for locals, all but depleting the stores they were building up to get through the coming winter. The community has answered back in its usual generous way, but such demand for social services was previously unheard of in the summer months when jobs were usually easy to find.
Pay parking? Don't get anyone started. H1N1? We all think we may have had it but are not really sure.
As for our local businesses, not everybody made it. The difference a year makes can be plainly seen in a walk along Village Stroll. Some shops are still papered over while others sprouted new tenants almost overnight - mainly tenants of the franchise variety but that's the way of the world these days.
The good news is that it could have been much worse. Life went on as usual, or close to it, and there was a lot to celebrate. Winter ended well after a generally poor year for snow and the village was as busy as ever for the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival. The steady stream of Olympic test events at Whistler venues also kept things interesting last winter and drew visitors to the resort.
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