In a year when the ever inward-looking Canadian press declared the 2010 Olympics story of the year - and admittedly, it may well be right up there with the Deepwater Horizon and the crumbling global economy to complete a hat trick of disasters - who am I to argue? But for the denizens of Tiny Town, the five-ring circus was only one of the gaggle of 500-pound gorillas in the room this year. With so few words, so many achievements to honour, let's open the envelopes and pique into the Maxies for 2010.
Best On-Mountain Improvement: Goodbye Fortress. Goodbye Intrawest. No longer a cog in the machine, Whistler Blackcomb is its own machine... kind of. The future's unknown and unknowable but at least there are fewer pirates running the ship.
Best Skiing Experience: Thank the Olympic aversion, but skiing in January and February was a lonesome, wonderful, Twilight Zone-like experience. There were times I thought I'd missed the "Closed Area" sign.
Power to Da People: The Fitz IPP managed to get built without hurting fish, pissing off kayakers or raising the ire of almost anyone. But if Hydro rates are going up for WB, won't income from the IPP go up too?
Is it Safe: Let's see, for One Billion Tax Dollars we got cops busted for shoplifting, sent home for sneaking hookers into their cruise ship quarters, pullin' down $90K a year to... raise and lower the flags at medals ceremonies, fully 13 at the intersection of 99 and Lake Placid to make sure I crossed on the green, pigloos, soldiers in the backcountry, tempnazis making sure we didn't smuggle tweezers into the plaza, and an overall oppressive atmosphere. But hey, the terrorists stayed home.
Is it Green: The roads were clear; the parking lots were clear; we all took transit... so a fleet of SUVs could have the highway to themselves to shuttle delicately important people to and from events, often deadheading one way.
Is it Here: Adding a comic human touch to the proceedings, ever-helpful Whistlerites pitched in to direct hopelessly lost, out-of-town bus drivers in the early days of their job. "No, dude, Function's the other way."
Best Olympic Moment: The closing ceremonies. Self-deprecating Canadian humour at its apex. From the first mime electrician to the arena-size table hockey game, to Captain Kirk to Hedley, it was the campiest, most entertaining Olympic ceremony I've ever seen.
The Agony and the Ecstasy: It began with the horrific death of Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili and ended with the five gold medals of paralympian, Lauren Woolstencroft. In between we soared with Alexandre Bilodeau, hometown girls Ashleigh and Maëlle, honourary Whistlerite Jon Montgomery and the other Canadian athletes who made us almost as nationalistic and proud as the Americans. Red-mitten applause to you all.
The Agony: May we never have to listen to John Furlong and Jacques Rogge drone through ceremonial speeches again.
Light at the End of the Tunnel: Just when a guy's given up hope, Rear-Entry Campbell announces he'll step down before his popularity rating explores negative number territory and right after that, Carole James dodges her party's long knives. Maybe there is hope for the future... but probably not.
Shussssssh... Don't Tell Anyone: Did it just slip his mind or was it a masterful political stroke to put him in the running for Least Loved Politician? Whichever, R-E's HST kicked in this year with the foreseeable consequences. Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Gordo.
Have Another; No, Don't: B.C. rolls out the toughest drunk driving laws in the country, restaurants and bars whither and die. Top cop Rich Coleman backtracks, pours another one and then discovers most of the breathalysers are miscalibrated. Now everyone needs a drink.
If You Bill It, They Won't Come: Whistler rolls out pay parking. Whistler retracts pay parking due to bad planning, bad timing, bad communication and very, very bad reaction from the public. Whistler rolls out pay parking again. Whistler stubbornly sticks with it despite bad planning, woeful shortfalls in revenue and obvious impacts on local business. What will 2011 bring?
If You Build it, Someone Will Eventually Notice: Did you know there was an asphalt plant down by Cheakamus Crossing? Neither did the neighbourhood's planners. Neither did some of the buyers, notwithstanding the bold, capital letters pointing it out to them. Is it legal? Well, mebe yes and mebe no. The real answer is... secret.
Sic Transit Gloria: Let's see, Whistler Transit has the highest per capita ridership. Whistler Transit has the lowest fare recovery percentage of operating costs. The lesson from this is Whistler transit should raise fares... which will likely lead to less ridership.... Oh, of course. This is Whistler council and staff. It would never occur to them maybe the whole damn thing just costs too much and work on fixing that side of the equation.
I Think That I Shall Never See: A sight as confusing as a tree. Lot 1/9 trees? Cut 'em for the Olympics. Old growth in the Community Forest? Cut 'em cuz the province says we have to. Tree buffer on Lot 4? Save 'em, save 'em; we don't really need a heliport at the clinic.
Let's Party Like There's No... Library: I know, let's spend $150K, er, $96K to bring Chilliwack back from the dead, er, to town and throw a party on one of the busiest weekends of the year, Canada Day. And to be really festive, let's all grow mullets.
But it Wasn't All Bad: Council also nixed unaffordable affordable seniors' housing at Rainbow, banned titties with your beer, proposed a $7 million drive-up visitor's check-in centre and earmarked half a mil of funny money for the film festival. What, me worry?
And They Meant Well: It isn't easy being mayor and council anywhere. It's particularly uneasy in Whistler. While we may disagree with their decisions, I'm not willing to question their motives and the opprobrium shown them by some of the tree and asphalt people was unwarranted and in extremely bad taste. If you don't like the way things are run, toss your own hat in the ring.
In closing, It's the People, Stupid. There are too many people who make this wacky experience all worthwhile. Whether it's Tom Thomson's Cubbies, the Hairfarmers Zombie Tour during the Olympics when they hardly seemed to sleep at all, Nicky Ede's cover shot of Phil Chew, Aki taking a chance on Pechakucha, TWSSF, all the people we lost this year and all the people who opened their hearts to me during my loss, it's the people who will keep this place going and make it different than what it used to be but still worth sticking around for.
Best wishes for 2011.