Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The pdf version of Pique is back

By on Wed, Dec 21, 2011 at 3:12 PM

Due to popular demand — and after having got a better handle on the new website and what it requires — a pdf version of Pique Newsmagazine is available once again.

Pdfs of the last three papers are available under the “Features & Images” tab at the top of the site. Click on “Features & Images” and scroll down to “Browse Issue Covers.” There you will find an archive of past issues. The December issues each have a box below the cover icon that says “Digital Edition.” Click on that and the pdf version will appear.

It’s not quite the same as our previous pdf version — there isn’t a page-turning feature; instead you scroll through the pages. However, it is a pdf of each page in the paper, so it includes all the ads, stories, images and any typos we happen to throw into a particular printed issue.

Friday, December 16, 2011

'Justice' may prove elusive

By on Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 1:20 PM

Interesting announcement this week that the sled dog operation at the centre of the alleged 2010 dog massacre in Whistler has been turned over to a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to improving animal welfare.

The Sled Dog Foundation, and other sled dog companies in B.C., will undoubtedly operate under closer scrutiny in the years ahead. Outrage after the allegations became public led to new provincial regulations for all sled dog operators, which should only be good for the dogs.

But anyone expecting “justice” for the dogs destroyed in the spring of 2010 — an expectation fuelled by the SPCA — may be disappointed.

There haven’t been any charges laid 11 months after the allegations came to light. Considering the first charges in the Stanley Cup riot have only recently been laid, and last spring’s investigation of the sled dog site in the Soo Valley had to wait until the snow melted, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised.

But neither should we be surprised if there never are any charges laid.

Remember: all the gruesome details that have shocked and horrified people around the world have come from one source, the man who claims to have killed the animals inhumanely and then sought compensation from WorkSafe BC for his mental anguish.

The investigation, led by the SPCA, unearthed the remains of more than 50 dogs in a mass grave. The leaked WorkSafe BC documents suggested there were up to 100 dogs killed.

Autopsies were done on the animals over the summer and in September the SPCA reportedly turned over tens of thousands of pages of evidence to the Crown, with a recommendation that cruelty charges under the criminal code be pursued.

The SPCA’s findings, based on their excavation of the grave site and autopsies done more than a year after the killings, may indeed prove that the dogs were killed in inhumane ways. But it’s going to be quite a bit more difficult to prove who did the killing.

A WorkSafe BC claim is not a confession. And as far as we know, there were no witnesses.

So 11 months later, with the graphic allegations as strong in people’s minds as the demand for justice, we are still left wondering what exactly happened out in the Soo Valley.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tight timeline for municipal budget

By on Fri, Dec 9, 2011 at 12:33 PM

In her inaugural address after being sworn in as mayor Tuesday, Nancy Wilhelm-Morden quoted a French author and former member of the Resistance, Stéphane Hessel, who wrote: “If you spend a little time searching, you will find reasons to engage. The worst attitude is indifference.”

The new mayor went on to say that “Whistler and engagement are synonymous.” And certainly Whistlerites were engaged in this year’s municipal election.

One of the biggest issues in the election, one that contributed to an unprecedented level of voter turnout, was municipal spending. In other words, the budget.

The 2012 municipal budget must be adopted by the end of April. Wilhelm-Morden has asked municipal staff to present briefing notes on the budget to the new council before Christmas, and to present a budget timetable at the first council meeting of the New Year, which could be Jan. 3. She has also promised a “meaningful public consultation process” on the budget.

On the surface it would appear that four months is plenty of time to review and approve a budget, and no doubt it will get done. But consider:

• the mayor has called for a zero-based budget process, which means reviewing absolutely everything;

• the municipality is operating with an interim director of finance;

• by mid-December 2010 the municipality had already held its second public open house on the 2011 budget.

On top of this there are six newly-elected councillors, all of whom have dealt with budgets in their respective pasts but all are new to municipal government.

Given these parameters, when the opportunity comes for public engagement in the 2012 municipal budget, Whistlerites had better be ready. It’s going to be a tight timeline.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A new era for Whistler

By on Tue, Dec 6, 2011 at 1:13 PM

A new era begins in Whistler tonight with the swearing in of the new council — all-new, in television-speak.
The firsts for this council have been noted frequently since the Nov. 19 election: it was the first Whistler municipal election where no incumbents were returned to office and Nancy Wilhelm-Morden is Whistler’s first female mayor.
The all-new council may hold its first real meeting tomorrow.
Last month’s vote totals show the Whistler electorate overwhelmingly rejected the incumbent council members, delivering a strong mandate for change. Presumably.
And yet, radical changes are unlikely. Mayor-elect Wilhelm-Morden has promised no property tax increases in 2012. She’s promised to “fix” the public transit system and “work towards restoring the trust between the community and municipal hall.” Goals most of the candidates, including the new councillors, could agree on.
Wilhelm-Morden also feels Whistler is in a pretty good position, with Rainbow and Cheakamus Crossing meeting the demands for resident housing and other Olympic infrastructure providing new opportunities for the community.
As well, municipal reserve funds, which were depleted by capital spending in the years leading up to the Olympics, are being rebuilt.
So what is the change that voters were so desperate for? Undoing pay parking? Closing the asphalt plant?
Getting rid of both would make some people happy, but as issues they are more symbolic than fundamental to Whistler.
The way the last council — and municipal hall — dealt with pay parking and the asphalt plant is where change is expected. A little more empathy, a little better communication and a little less of the “we know best” attitude that seemed to emanate from municipal hall in recent months are some of the changes people are looking for.
And with a new chief administrative officer installed, the new council has an opportunity to effect these sorts of changes.
Welcome the new council into office tonight at 5:30 at Millennium Place. And then keep in touch with them; communication is a two-way street.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The iPhone app and a couple of plugs

By on Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 11:15 AM

The further adventures of the new website…
As many have discovered, the Pique iPhone app doesn’t work right now. It’s a compatibility issue with our new website/server. We are working on getting it back up but it will be a few days. Thank you for your patience.
A Pique iPad app is further down the road, likely sometime in 2012.
Sorry, but we can only juggle so many technical balls at once, and still produce a paper.
And thank you to all those who have taken the time to use the comment feature on the website, and for keeping your comments clean.
Now if you’ll indulge me, a couple of plugs.
Today is the last day to vote in the 2011 Best of Whistler contest. The Best of Whistler link was down briefly while our new site was being launched earlier this week but it’s back up and we have more entries than ever.
Results will be published in the Dec. 29 issue of Pique Newsmagazine.
Meanwhile, there are still four more opportunities to win a pair of Prior skis or snowboard in the SHARE Whistler campaign. To be eligible you have to donate $50, or five hours of volunteer time, to the Community Foundation of Whistler or one of the 13 charities that are part of the campaign. Pique will match donations up to a total of $10,000.
The aim of the campaign is to get new people involved in philanthropy, help out some worthy organizations and integrate newcomers into the community. And you earn a tax receipt for donations of $10 or more.
Click the SHARE Whistler link on the website to find out more and to make a donation.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A work in progress

By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 5:02 PM

Thank you for the positive feedback and your patience as we learn how to utilize our new website.
There are many things that need fixing and tweaking; it comes with the territory when you’re transferring 17 years worth of data. We are working on getting news stories in news holes and putting columnists in their place, so to speak, but it will take a little while. The priority is to make sure all the current data is in the right places and then work our way back.
While also adding new stuff.
Our new classified system is also likely going to take a week or two to iron out all the bugs. The system brings together two companies, one that produces ads for the web and one that produces ads for print. Melding the two systems is a bit of an experiment for all of us.
Kathryn Elder, founder of the Black Diamond Betties, Whistler’s roller derby team, is the Pique staffer who has led the experiment. Compliments can be directed to her.
The new classified system is designed for the advertiser. You can design your ad — including boxes, bold type, photos and other features — exactly the way you want it online. You then see a proof of the ad and an itemized bill before it is sent off to us. You also chose what day you want the ad to go live online.
The intent is that the new classified system will be easier to use, available 24 hours a day and lead to a more dynamic classified market in the Sea to Sky corridor.
Again, thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New website, new dynamics

By on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Welcome to a new blog on the new Pique website.
The website has been a work in progress for the last five months and will continue to evolve as we learn to work with the site’s capabilities. It has been designed, with the help of Whistler’s Origin Design and the architecture of Tucson’s DesertNet, to offer a more dynamic interface with Whistler, rather than just a digital reproduction of what’s available in the printed edition of Pique Newsmagazine. Whether you are here in Whistler or interested in what’s going on here, the new Pique website is intended to keep you informed about what’s happening, what’s going to happen and to give you a better sense of what the people in this mountain town are feeling. We’ll do that in a variety of new ways, some of which will be introduced over the next weeks and months.
One of the new tools that is available now through the DesertNet system is the ability to blog. The number of bloggers we will have has yet to be determined — as I said, this website continues to be a work in progress, at the same time staff are also producing a weekly newspaper. But for the time being I will be blogging, periodically, on goings-on behind the scenes at Pique, on things that don’t quite fit the definition of “news”, and perhaps offering a perspective on matters political.
For this initial blog post I’d like to focus on another of the new opportunities that comes with the new website, the ability for readers to post comments online. That instantaneous feedback is one of the ways our new website is more dynamic. But I’d like everyone to remember one word when they comment: respect.
Last week the New York Times was the latest forum for a healthy debate on the virtues and vanity that come with anonymous posting. Christopher Wolf, an Internet and privacy attorney and leader of the Internet Task Force of the Anti-Defamation League, kicked off the discussion with the premise that “People who are able to post anonymously (or pseudonymously) are far more likely to say awful things, sometimes with awful consequences, such as the suicides of cyberbullied young people. The abuse extends to hate-filled and inflammatory comments appended to the online versions of newspaper articles — comments that hijack legitimate discussions of current events and discourage people from participating.”
We have all seen it. In fact, many of us ignore the online readers’ comments that follow news stories because so often they quickly descend into incivility, ideological name-calling and even hate. What should be a forum for open debate can quickly become a forum for intimidation by anonymous bullies.
The published counters to Wolf’s argument came from lawyers and writers who raised the virtues of anonymity online. Catherine Crump, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union cited the United States Supreme Court, which wrote that anonymity serves “to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation — and their ideas from suppression — at the hand of an intolerant society.”
These are the two ends of the spectrum that anonymous online posting, in its infancy, has led to. We are hoping much of the discussion takes place somewhere in between.
We have chosen to allow readers to post online comments in the hope that it will increase civil debate and add to the dynamic nature of the community. Readers will have to log into our site in order to post a comment. Comments will also be monitored. If the level of civility and respect declines we will add more filters before comments are published.
But our hope is that the new website, and some of its new features, will help advance discussion and understanding within the community.

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