By G.D. Maxwell
"Enough is enough!"
My sister and I were playing on the livingroom floor. We were engaged in an escalating moment of our favourite game. The game pretty much consisted of discovering the simplest, most stupid thing we could that thoroughly annoyed the other person and then hammering at it relentlessly. The object of the game was to see which one of us would break first under the psychological torture and go running to Mom to rat out the other. I was good but my sister, being older and more gifted at the annoying arts, was better.
Mom broke first. "Enough is enough!"
No it wasn't. Momentarily mollified into the appearance of obedience, during which our childlike attention spans should have flitted to some other distraction, we both plotted the next salvo. What the heck else are rainy afternoons good for?
I'm not sure how the next round started but I remember vividly how it ended. Having driven my sister to the gloves-are-coming-off point, she reached over and untied my shoes. I was horrified. I'd lost. Lost big. I still hadn't mastered the twisted mechanics of tying bows and now my shoes were in danger of coming off my feet. I loved my shoes. The thought of having them drift away from my feet was abhorrent.
"Moooommmmm! Kathy untied my shoes," I cried.
"Enough is enough!" Without fanfare or even apparent loss of temper, we were both unceremoniously scooped up and banished to separate rooms. Enough was enough.
At least until we discovered we could annoy each other through the walls.
This being Mother's Day, more or less, and with my sister's birthday coming hard on its heels, I've been reminiscing about the two of them. The apologies I owe each could fill several columns but I'm sure they've forgiven me. Best wishes to both.
But mostly, I've been rolling 'Enough is Enough' around my addled brain ever since the public hearing on Nita Lake Lodge.
The sad fact is, while we like to indulge in fantasies about Whistler being different, being an experiment in limits to growth and, dare I say it, sustainable mountain resort municipality living, it is highly unlikely enough will ever be enough. We're a community of growth junkies. We crave growth. We need growth. We want growth.
Or at least a large segment of our population does.
The business community does. Fer sure, dude. One after another rose and praised the project. Many referred to it as a "Gateway to Whistler." Notwithstanding the fact that 99.9 per cent of everyone who comes here - by car of course - will never take a left at Lake Placid Road and see it.
Many more praised the private train station to be built there, a station to serve possible cruise ship patrons daytripping to Whistler on private trains because they hear it's a quaint place. Or because they're bored. Or ran out of fudge. Whatever.
The possibility of hordes of cruisers roaming the village gives me the willies. It sounds too much like the gong show scene Banff has become in the summer. Throngs of shuffling tourists snapping Kodak moments, buying curios and generally wondering what the hell they're doing there while they mob public spaces that begin to resemble nothing more than a cheap carnival midway. "Guess yer weight, Slim?"
But they'll spend money. And enough of that is never enough. Is it?
Addiction to growth works mysteriously like addiction to drugs. As you get used to a certain dosage, you want more. More is never enough though because you get used to it and want. more. We've built the resort to a certain capacity. Our numbers are off. We need more tourists. Build another hotel. Build a train station. More will come. As more come, we'll nudge capacity and the cry will go forth to build more capacity. Then we'll need more people to fill it. More. Evermore.
Next stop, buildout.
Whatever the bed unit number and whatever the bed unit cap, there's one thing you can bet the farm on. When we get to it, the pressure will be unbearable to blow past it like a roadsign on a busy freeway.
Entering Buildout: Population 52,500. Leaving Buildout: Entering Something Bigger.
Something bigger might be that satellite community in the Callaghan. That dog still hunts. It's knocking around Muni Hall, weaving its tendrils into the Neverending Sustainability OfficialCommunityPlan. Won't be long before it rears its ugly head. Course, by then we'll have approved a few more abominable projects because we don't have a PLAN to measure their abomination against. Who's writing this Sustainability Plan, Samuel Beckett?
Oh yeah; I forgot. Callaghan's employee housing. Doesn't count. Insubstantial bed units. Phantom growth. A bone for the workerbees who won't mind being shunted downvalley and traversing a clogged - but improved - highway.
Here's a novel idea. Let's scrap the bed unit cap. Let's get in touch with our inner child and embrace growth openly. Let's stop using words like sustainability, footprint, bed unit cap, conservation, affordability and start using words with real resonance. Growth. More. Bigger. Sprawl. It'd be so refreshing not to have to continually lie to ourselves.
Let's stop worrying about saving wetlands. Wetlands, schmetlands. Hell, we've already destroyed most of them so aging children can smack little white balls around manicured grass or build their bad-dream monstahomes with a good view of what's left of nesting grounds for waterfowl. And despite our 'commitment' to natural stepping, the muni's still chopping down shelter trees along the River of Golden Dreams so we can have an unobstructed view from the observation platform. Don't know what we're observing once they finish chopping down trees that buffer people from wildlife. But it's the thoughtlessness that counts.
Someone asked the other day, "Is it too late?"
Yeah, probably. We're rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. 'Cept this boat's still floating, we're just kicking the steerage passengers off. We're the dog that caught the car. Now that we've got it, what the heck are we going to do with it? Success is its own punishment.
Or maybe I'm wrong. Time will tell. But will any of us be around to say, "Told ya so."?
* * *
And now for something completely different. In a moment of weakness, I've pledged my freedom for a good cause. Tonight, I'm to be incarcerated. Jailed at last. It's all for a good cause. A legitimate charity, not my own pocket.
I have to raise bail to get out of the slammer. But I have a suspicion more people in this town - especially if they've just read this far - would be willing to contribute money to keep me in jail. So that's the bribe. Contribute to a good cause, get a tax receipt and send Max to jail.
You can do it at the GLC from 7 to 9 tonight (May 9) or by calling Pique. Raise 5G's and I'll turn myself in to the RCMP and go into lockdown for real. How can you resist?