A leader in sustainability?
I feel Im at risk of turning into a crackpot. Lately Ive written about the costs of public buildings and the state of environmental conservation three times. However, the recent budget increase for the construction of the library has sent my Irish temper into a nuclear meltdown of Chernobyl-like proportions.
First of all, does a community with around 10,000 permanent residents really need a nearly $10 million library? I would think that any major construction project would have fixed contracts in place before the start of construction to keep such price escalations in check. The fact that the project went through the approval process with a budget of $7 million, and which has now climbed to $9.7 million dollars (a 38 per cent increase) shows a flippant attitude toward the public purse.
I have a lot of respect for Eckhard Zeidler. He ran openly for the "green chair", which makes it his duty to fight for the "sustainability" aspects of the project. That doesnt mean that the rest of council cant take a more common sense approach to some of the sustainability issues. Does the fact that we live on the verge of a temperate rain forest make spending $10,000 on low flush toilets an inane idea? A skylight in the parkade stairs? The only reason I can see for that would be to save on lighting the stairwell. A better plan for that might be to put some fluorescent fixtures in on a motion sensor. How much of that savings would simply bleed away in extra heating costs, as that skylight isnt going to be anywhere near as insulated as a nice cozy roof? The fact that separate heating and cooling systems might save $1,500 per year is comforting. For a $46,000 initial outlay, well recoup the cost back in a mere 30 years and eight months. Although $80,000 is a small part of the budget of the library, its still enough to buy a brand new convertible Corvette. If council had bought that car against the wishes of staff, what would the response from the community be?
Im getting really sick of the notion that putting low flush toilets and green roofs on public buildings makes Whistler a leader in sustainability. Whistler is a community built on conspicuous consumption. We produce nothing of what we consume, with the exception of the Gone Bakery and a few marijuana grow-ops. We use massive amounts of electricity to run ski lifts and machines to make artificial snow. Our refuse is sent via diesel truck to other communities, and our septic treatment plant smells like a toilet I once saw at a Tijuana gas station. We cant, or wont, build employee housing for people who work here, but we have a glut of multi-million dollar housing that sits mostly empty. We dont have enough affordable childcare, we dont have enough things for our teenagers to do, and we dont have any facilities for senior citizens. Weve displaced the native wildlife, filled in our wetlands for golf courses, and blocked our mountain views with hotels.
How do you spell that?
I guess I should have spelled "trophy" library with capital letters. With escalating costs can they truly justify $500,000 (initial budget) for "end of trip" facilities (showers)?
No back up
People and communities all over the world are suffering with the privatization of their water and large bottling companies play a big role in this mess. Water should be a human right and should not be bought and sold for profit. Here in Whistler the city council makes statements about not privatizing our water system, yet every council meeting each one of them and their staff drink from bottles containing privatized water. How can they say they stand for something, when they don't back it up with their actions?
Canadas lost medal
Congratulations to all our Canadian Olympic athletes and thank you for your participation at the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics. Congratulations to all of our medal winners, and shame on the Canadian media commentators who questioned, in the middle of the competition, the national goal and objective of winning 25 medals. Any perceived medal shortcomings have nothing to do, as CBC radio alluded, with the mens hockey team, apparently being a group of patronage appointments whose performance was more suited for a place at the poker table.
Canadians actually won 25 medals at these Olympics and the only reason that Canada was not credited with the 25 th medal rests at the feet of the Canadian Snowboard Federation bureaucracy and the unnecessarily onerous hoops and hurdles they have apparently imposed on some of our top Canadian performers. It would appear their team selection methods were adopted from USA Cycling and its competency questioning methods as documented in the film Off Road to Athens. Little wonder that most of the athletes profiled in this film appear to have abandoned the nationally competitive aspect of their sport within a year of that fiasco.
We can only hope that more of our most passionate Canadian athletes actually take control away from the professional bureaucrats that currently govern most of our sports associations. Hopefully this passion will lead to a broadening of the base support throughout all of the development levels, and a streamlining of the selection of our top representatives that is solely geared towards those whose performance is peaking at the highest levels at the most appropriate time. At least some of the American cycling bureaucrats responsible for their situation had the fortitude to participate publicly, albeit somewhat reluctantly, in this excellent documentary. It remains to be seen if their Canadian counterparts will be any more forthcoming.
Right back at ya
I just wanted to thank all those who came out to the Raging Ice Weasels', Comedy for a Cause show on Thursday and Friday. It seemed like you all had a good time and I can tell you that Charlie, Bobby, Mike and I all loved performing for you. And as if that weren't enough, we raised a bunch of much needed money for the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program.
To give you an idea, a single sit-ski costs $3,000-$5,000, before you even put a ski on it. And there are many other costs on top of that to run a successful program capable of developing future Paralympians.
A few years back a bunch of Whistlerites came out to support me in raising the funds for a sit-ski which allows me to pursue my dreams for 2010. It's great to know that Whistlerites are still coming out to support the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program in getting people up on the mountain so they can focus on their abilities rather than their disabilities.
A hearty round of applause right back at all of you who came out to support us, and hopes that those who weren't able to will think of us in the future.