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Don’t blame those financial tools

In response to the July 17 letter in Pique from Jamie Pike, I wanted to take the opportunity to clarify some background around "financial tools".

In response to the July 17 letter in Pique from Jamie Pike, I wanted to take the opportunity to clarify some background around "financial tools".

Whistler identified the opportunity to seek an additional portion of hotel tax — or financial tools — for our community as a 2010 Winter Games legacy. After leading a group of B.C. resort communities to pursue this contribution from the Province of B.C., the additional funding was approved in spring 2006.

We will receive around $7 million from the hotel tax annually — the amount is variable depending on hotel tax intake. The opportunity to see more tourism industry revenue redirected to resort communities is very positive as the dollars previously went back to general provincial revenues.

The use of these new dollars is intended for, and confined to, funding tourism programs and infrastructure as part of the province's goal to build tourism. Whistler is investing the monies in projects such as trail improvements, arts and culture programs, iHost and village enhancement projects like Celebration Plaza. The dollars cannot be used to offset taxes or for traditional municipal project spending.

As Whistler approaches "build out," and as our infrastructure ages, new revenue sources such as this will help our community maintain our competitiveness and grow our annual hotel occupancy beyond 54 per cent, and ultimately achieve our vision to be the premier mountain resort community — as we move toward sustainability.

Staff at the RMOW are always available to answer questions about this or any other municipal business. Please call 604-932-5535 or e-mail info@whistler.ca.

Bill Barratt

Chief Administrative Officer

Resort Municipality of Whistler

Olympic legacy looking familiar

Here we go again, another $11.5 million of spending on paving the parking lots and the Fitzsimmons Creek debris barrier — Wow, another TajMaLibrary sized cost for the taxpayers of Whistler as VANOC backs away from their commitment to pay 40 per cent of the paving costs.

Not only this but we will have to pay steep parking costs of $8 to $12 a day. The statement "all other parking lots will remain free" won't hold up for a second as IGA, the muni lot next to the Royal Bank and the muni golf course will have to introduce fees or be swamped.

So there is another $1,000-plus a year for Whistler families to absorb — ironic the article about the costs was juxtaposed across the page in Pique from "Affordability is Whistler's number one challenge."

The big losers will be village merchants, as locals will stay away in droves in favour of locations outside of Central for their services and necessities.

Maybe the muni has not noticed that the world is tumbling into a recession at an alarming rate — U.S. and European Consumer Confidence levels are probing 25-year lows and the world banking system, after dropping $500 billion, is on life support. Home prices in Spain have fallen 30 per cent, June car sales in Ireland are off 56 per cent from a year ago and 80 per cent of Quebecers are altering their travel plans because of fuel price increases — sorry about the smattering of some unpleasant stats but it's easier to relate such numbers.

Even mother Fortress is finding the going rough, having to pay a $1.4 billion penalty for not coming through with a $6.7 billion acquisition of a casino/horse racing business. Fortress shareholders have seen their stock slide 70 per cent from its first days of trading.

Meanwhile Pirate Equity the bottom feeding hedge fund which started the liquidation of Intrawest, has gone belly up while its CEO is to be seen on the website Sugar Daddy.com. Quality people these hedgies, maybe the muni will give them another $800,000 tax break now that they need it.

Did the muni proceed with knocking down the trees on Lot 1/9 without knowing that a condition of the VANOC's support of Celebration Plaza was their backing out of the parking lot costs, or was this just something not disclosed to the electorate?

When the mayor says everything is okay as our debt service costs are only 2-3 per cent of revenue does he not factor that debt service costs are moving above 10 per cent? Is it wise to expect variable and declining hotel occupancy taxes to finance unpredictable and rising construction costs? I was a municipal debt analyst in Montreal when the Olympics would have bankrupted the City of Montreal if the province had not stepped in — I see our little village headed down the same route and our Olympic legacy might also become The Big Owe.

Mayor Melamed's family left the USA when they did not want their taxes used to fight the Vietnam War, a very legitimate protest which I applaud. But I wonder how many Whistler families will be leaving town for good because of our municipal government's gold plated view of our spending responsibility for a two-week event.

Lennox McNeely

Whistler

Feet don’t fail me

Re: The letter to the editor titled "Technology wins again” from Rolo in the July 24th Pique.

The letter was a little unclear, but it seemed to take a stab at two individuals that I believe deserve a greater level of respect. For starters, Feet Banks is a large part of the reason that I (and I believe many others) read the Pique Newsmagazine. I can always expect a good laugh while reading Feet's clever and unique approach to critiquing movies. I hope to read plenty more articles written by Feet in the future.

Furthermore, I found Heath Ledger's performance in The Dark Knight to be moving and disturbing in the best possible way. In my opinion, Heath's acting was raw and very powerful. Great work Heath! R.I.P.

Lastly, I would like to close by saying that unlike the delicious bite sized chocolate candy, this Rolo seems to be a little bitter inside. Cheer up " dark night ". See you at the Theatre.

Justin Ormiston

Whistler

A royal oversight

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Crown colony of British Columbia. As such, it is a good time to explore and celebrate our history, and the personal stories that help to make up that history. That doesn't mean that we can skip the fact check, though.

Paul Carlucci's article "The arc of integration" (Pique, July 17) begins with a fiction. Queen Victoria did not travel to Vancouver with an entourage of Sikh soldiers in 1897. She never visited Canada at all. King George VI holds the distinction of being the first reigning monarch to visit Canada (and B.C.) in 1939.

Mary McIntosh

Victoria

How lucky we are!

An unbelievable success from a concertgoer's perspective and a first for the small town of Pemberton, not to mention our country. Pemberton is on the map and I don't think anyone is going to forget this place too soon. Maybe that's because they studied the beautiful scenery while sitting in traffic, saw a lot of really cool local and international bands or met a ton of amazingly friendly people while dancing the days away.

It truly is wonderful having the events and amenities of Whistler only a half hour away but for the first time we biked to a world class event from our house and couldn't have been any prouder to say we live in Pemberton.

I think Shane Bourbonnais and Live Nation deserve only the most positive praise for the job they've done, not to mention the hard work from the staggering number of volunteers and workers that it takes to make an event of this magnitude successful.

A couple of obvious hiccups, garbage and traffic, will be on the list of improvements and a challenge for organizers for next year but all in all I don’t think either of those problems will deter people from returning.

I hope all the criticism will be this positive and can’t wait for next year — congratulations to you all for an unforgettable weekend.

Nicole Bush

Mt. Currie

We can take this

I have lived in Whistler for over two years now and love this area. My girlfriend and I plan on staying until the Olympics to enjoy them, then try somewhere new.

I just was at the Pemberton Festival and on our drive back today noticed a very long line into Pemberton. I said to my girlfriend, “it's a shame that this is happening because once you get there everything is great". We have been lucky enough to be driving in around noon every day and avoiding the late afternoon rush. I just wanted to say that yes there will be complaints about the transportation but I still feel the positives are outnumbering the negatives and that we should cut the organizers some slack, as it is their first "Pemberton" event.

Lessons will be learned and possibly the addition of a route from the Rocky Mountaineer next year would help. I would buy a return train ticket from Whistler to Pemberton and I am sure thousands would to get from Vancouver to Pemberton the first day, returning on Monday. Maybe there should be more shuttles from Whistler to get some of the cars off the road and have a lot in Whistler for festivalgoers.

I have had calls from friends all across North America who have said, "why didn't you tell me about this concert and when do tickets go on sale next year?”

I know after Coldplay I will be one of thousands stuck in traffic Sunday night so I will be bringing both my Jay Z and Coldplay CDs in the car to enjoy on the long journey back to Whistler. We can take this craziness once a year... can't we? Thanks Pemberton for throwing a good event.

Tim Koshul

Whistler

Impressive, but what we want?

Wow! What a weekend. Pemberton was a carnival. My son spent three straight days at the Live Nation festival, returning each night full of amazement at the things he saw and did (crowd surfing; mosh pits; fantastic music; and maybe some things he didn’t share with me). His ticket was generously fronted by Live Nation via his mother’s work. According to him it was all great.

I, however, am left wondering if this huge festival is really something we need here in Pemberton. Personally, I look forward to the Slow Food Cycle which is coming up, and when I compare the two events I really feel like the Pemberton Festival as misplaced. I won’t go into the logistical problems presented by our narrow valley serviced as it is by a single road trying to deal with an influx of 40,000 people. (Really, I promise, there are no secret secondary routes through the woods, there is only one bridge over the Lillooet). Instead, I question the whole need, the desire, for something of this magnitude, whether we had the roads or not.

Before the festival opened I kept reading in the papers that this was Pemberton’s chance to step out from Whistler’s shadow. Really? Most people I know have either been here since long before Whistler came into being or have chosen to leave Whistler behind. Trust me, Pemberton rests in the shadow of Mount Currie, not Whistler.

Mount Currie is awesome, though, and I can understand people’s giddy enthusiasm when they first experience the natural splendour of the valley. But I am a little unnerved by the cadre of people arriving these days who are not quite satisfied with the place and are continually clamouring over the valley’s potential. The people who want more from what we have here. More what? There are hundreds of jobs begging at Whistler and a beautiful metropolis just two and a half hours away. What more exactly do we need? More Whistler? More Vancouver?

Sure, I can imagine the pleasure of listening to Jay Z or Cold Play with Mount Currie serving as a glorious backdrop, it would be phenomenal. But I think a better way to appreciate Mount Currie is biking back from the Van Loons’ with a bag of potatoes dangling from the handlebars, or maybe some McEwen strawberries. You really experience the mountains and the valley then. You get it. The Slow Food Cycle is a meta event to Live Nation’s mega event and more in keeping with the valley’s reality, and the direction I think we should be going when it comes to growing the tourist industry.

There is money to be made in an event like Pemberton Fest, granted. And glamour and glory, I suppose. But in the end I just don’t see how a weekend of 10,000 idling cars, tons of trucks and machinery parked on farm land, and a blatant disregard for every lesson we try to teach our kids about safe, common sense, use of alcohol and drugs is in our community’s interest.

I wonder too about the processes that were hurdled to get this event on. It is almost impossible to build a walking trail in the valley because of the threat pedestrians and bicycles are deemed to pose to the agricultural integrity of the land, but the ALC sure rolled over for this one.

And the Community Centre is still not open for lack of an Occupancy Permit (or some such piece of the process) but the SLRD is able to slap a last minute injunction on a rogue festival that it fears might inadvertently blemish Live Nation’s reputation.

I understand that I might be mixing apples and oranges for some people, but my point is that people, organizations, and processes often yield to impetuses generated by money and starry-eyed enthusiasm. And it might take an equal but opposite push to counter the Live Nation juggernaut. I’m just saying… if I had to vote on it, I’d vote no for next year.

John Stevens

Pemberton

The trails less travelled

One of the more bizarre scenes at the music festival was the pedestrian and bike traffic from Pemberton to the Pemberton Farm Road festival gate. There are several safe and interesting route choices.

First, a relatively safe, direct and fun route from Urdal Road across the CN bridge and along the trails and roads to the crossing at Pemberton Farm Road East. Oh, oh, can't go there, the CN police are issuing trespass tickets.

How about the Valley Loop Trail north of Highway 99 via Urdal Road? Nope, a local landowner shut that down last week.

What about the Valley Loop on the Pemberton Creek dyke? Illegally situated gates on the dyke make that inconvenient.

So what's left? The happy hordes of bikers and walkers balancing on the tiny shoulder on Highway 99, avoiding the drop into the ditch on one side and the traffic on the other with the as yet unbuilt commuter trail languishing in the tall grass on the other side of the ditch.

Some glitches aside, Pemberton did a pretty good job as festival host. It did highlight, however, a woefully inadequate local trail network. Let’s get this fixed ASAP.

Hugh Naylor

Pemberton

Amazing festival

Wow! Wow! Wow! I've been to a lot of festivals and I think the organizers of the Pemberton Festival should be given a huge pat on the back. So should the police, fire crews, medics, volunteers, super happy shuttle drivers and the entire town of Pemberton. I know everything didn't run like clockwork and I know there are going to be those people out there that will try to complain. Well, I'm not having one ounce of it... no way! If people want to focus on the negative... well, that's the experience they are going to take home with them.

Me? I had an amazing time! I met awesome people in the traffic waits everyday... even the cycling guy that rolled over the hood of my truck on the highway while I was stopped by Nairn Falls... glad you rode away dude!

I made many fun connections and had tons of laughs, including the gals from Edmonton that picked me up on one of my many walks from festival site and back... most entertaining lift I've had in a long time..

I met many other cool folks in the “not so terrible” lineups. To me that was part of the whole experience... it was where that the best part of life in the entire three days took place. We shared dust bowls and dirty feet together. Which turned water station trips into bonding time.

If you want to experience mind blowing music in a beautiful setting such as Pemberton (and beautiful it was) then expect to have to work for it... that makes the pay-off so much sweeter.

Nevertheless there will be folks who will want to focus on the negative and there's nothing I can do about that... except hope that one day they'll see how blessed we really are and that a traffic jam, lineup or a little dust isn't really so bad.

I would like to extend 10 farmers fields of thanks to the Schapankys for opening their house up to us Whistler orphans for the weekend and for being the best festival hosts ever! I would also like to send out a festival size cheer to all those people who were positive and lovely and who made my three days at Pemberton Fest unforgettable! Here's to seeing the glass totally full ! Can't wait to see all you Yay Sayers this time next year.

Angie Nolan

Whistler

Pemberton wide awake now

I just wanted to express my thanks to Live Nation for waking up this sleepy little town of Pemberton. To all of the nay-sayers who complained about the noise, the added people and so on, let’s all get real.... It is just three days, not a lifetime!

Overall I think that the festival has been a positive thing for this community. Not only has it helped the local businesses, but it has let people know more about our lovely town. We cannot stop the progress that is happening. Things like this don't happen all the time and we should be grateful that someone thought enough of this town to hold it here.

I just hope that this will be an annual event.

Rachel Nielsen

Pemberton

Maggie’s back in town

I would like to thank the person — from the bottom of my heart — who returned our dog!

On Saturday of the Pembie Fest my dog wandered off, probably after a pedestrian or bike. After about three hours of searching and searching, contacting bylaw services and asking the police that were stationed at all the intersections (who had seen her but weren’t sure where she had gone), we figured Maggie had been taken by someone.

Maggie is a blonde pure bread pit bull with the best personality that you could ever ask for in a dog. When we couldn’t think of anywhere else she might be we went home to find her tied to a tree at the end of our driveway.

Thank you so much for bringing her home. You are a superstar! Many, many, many, thanks. This kind act will come back to you!

Ty and Roo Kreutzer

Pemberton




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