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Maxed Out: At long last… more tales from the inbox

'tis the season to be jolly
Is Vail Resorts doing less grooming on Whistler Blackcomb this year? At least one Pique reader thinks so.

Well, well, well, ‘tis the season to be jolly. In keeping with my dearly-departed mother’s admonition about not saying anything about someone or something if I can’t say something nice, and in honour of the season of excess, I’ll simply turn my attention to sorting through my email inbox and running another episode of Tales From the Inbox. At least that way if something not so nice slips in, it’s on the correspondent, not me. Ho, ho, ho.

Dear Max: What the f@%k is up with Vail Resorts? Have all the groomers quit? I was really looking forward to getting some good turns in before the holiday rush but there’s almost nothing groomed. It’s not like there’s so much open terrain they couldn’t manage to groom another run or two, which it seems would almost double what they’re doing now. I mean, how is it safe to only have one or two groomers crowded with ski school groups and people?

- Tired of Reruns

Dear Tired: In keeping with the spirit of the holidays, let me see if I can put a more positive spin on your observations. 

I fear you go overboard just a bit. Understandable, but really, I’m sure not all the groomers have quit. I see lights on the mountains at night and I see a couple of groomed runs every day when I go up. True, they’re the same ones, and they might be crowded, but they are groomed. Maybe this is Vail’s effort to instil a sense of nostalgia among old-timers. There are still people around who fondly remember the early days of Whistler when there was no grooming. Perhaps we’ve all just gotten soft, and this is Vail’s attempt to put us in touch with our roots.

Or you could put a positive, environmental spin on it. Doing so little grooming may be part of Vail’s Epic Promise, and good intentions to operate at net-zero some time in the future. After all, those big machines use a lot of fuel just to make sliding around easier.

As for safety, Vail has identified “uncompromising safety” as a core value of the company. It says so right on the Whistler Blackcomb webpage. Please don’t tell me you’re suggesting they’re just blowing smoke about such an important issue. Heaven forbid.

In short, let’s be a little more understanding and charitable for the holidays. There’ll be plenty of time in the new year to complain about Vail’s failures.

Hey Buddy: My mind was blown when I read the RMOW is going to hit us with a property tax increase over eight freaking per cent. Not sure how that’s going to help the overall rate of inflation that keeps making the price of everything more expensive and it sure isn’t going to help make Whistler more affordable. I know in the past you’ve been pretty outspoken about things like this. What do you think?

- Perplexed and P$%&ed-Off Property Owner

Dear Perplexed: As with Tired, I’ve taken the liberty of cleaning up your moniker. This is, after all, a family newsmagazine.

At the risk of veering too far from my self-imposed holiday spirit, I’ll just say I too was a bit shocked at the proposed increase. But who am I to not believe the mayor when he says he has to raise taxes that much to keep pace with rapidly rising inflation, keep municipal services at current levels and attract and retain employees? It’s not his fault if your property value is slipping. Not his fault your pay isn’t going up as much as muni workers. Certainly not his fault you feel hosed every time you buy groceries. 

If you’re over 55, you can defer your property taxes, unless your Whistler home isn’t your principal residence, in which case quit complaining. And really, what’s another $100 for each million your home is worth? I mean, the cost of insurance on my small, inexpensive Whistler Housing Authority home is going up by more than 10 per cent. Eight seems like a bargain by comparison. 

Surely you can’t think there’s waste in the municipal budget. Ouch! Sorry, tongue stuck painfully in cheek. But feel free to comment directly to either or I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.

Max: I think you hit a new low recently referring to the leader of the official opposition as PeePee and the premier of Alberta as a looney. You’re better than that.

- Disappointed

Dear Disappointed: Sorry to disappoint you again, but no, I’m not. 

Let’s take the easiest case first. Danielle Smith is a looney. Whether it’s her cockamamie Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act, which it seems she, like other members of her caucus, hadn’t actually read until called out on its anti-democratic features, or her now-infamous claim moderate cigarette consumption is actually good for your health, Ms. Smith has justifiably earned the sobriquet. QED.

As for the leader of the official opposition, I’ll admit I’ve never been very good at explaining the context of weird connections that happen in my head but never make it into print. And, in retrospect, I can see how PeePee might conjure up disconcerting urinary oopsies. But in my mind, Mr. Poilievre reminds me a lot of Pee Wee Herman, and his initials are P.P. He seems about as clued in as Pee Wee was before that tragic incident in a Sarasota theatre, and bears at least a passing resemblance. So I take your criticism to heart and will, henceforth, ensure there’s a space between Pee and Pee when I refer to him thusly.

Max: Do you know when there might be a ski-out to Creekside? I’d rather park there and take the shuttle until they get the new gondy running, but shuttling at the end of the day is unpleasant.

- Bussed

Dear Bussed: No idea. But again, think of all the emissions Vail is saving by encouraging people to leave their cars at Creekside and bus to the village. Epic.

That’s it for now. Except to say—and it has nothing to do with my inbox—there will be a “dramatic” reading of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol next Thursday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Whistler Public Library. It’s free. You know the story, children are welcome and you’ll be home in time for a nightcap. If that isn’t enough, the readers include well-known locals and Mayor Jack is turning a star role as Scrooge. I swear no typecasting was involved. Email to sign up so we know how many of you are coming. 

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