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Finding staff, Disneytown, affordable housing, sledge hockey, and bear traffic

How ‘desperate’ are we? I read the article "Whistler ‘desperate’ for workers" (Pique News, Aug.

How ‘desperate’ are we?

I read the article "Whistler ‘desperate’ for workers" (Pique News, Aug. 24) with pity, not for the "desperate" businesses looking for staff but for Louise Lundy, chamber president, and William Roberts, president of the Whistler Forum, because they are barking up the wrong tree.

The major employers in this town are not that desperate for employees, or they would change their hiring policies and not look to the government. I know of a young man with a degree in marketing from the University of British Columbia who is looking for a job in Whistler. He has a place to stay, a telephone and transportation. He is fluent in two languages. He has applied to the major hotel chains and to the mountain. He has received interviews based on merit.

He has subsequently been told that they would love to hire him, but he has no work visa. As a Mexican national, with a recent degree from UBC, all he needs to be granted a work visa is for the prospective employer to write a letter stating that they intend to hire him (this is a current program; no need to change any immigration policies).

Apparently, it is against company policy – this policy is the same at a number of hotel chains in Whistler as well as at the mountain – to write the letter that would allow him to work legally in Canada. However, should he secure a visa by some other means, come back and talk to them – they’d be happy to poach if someone else does the work.

This says to me that the major employers can’t be that ‘desperate.’ If they were, why are they turning away a bright young man, educated at the finest business school in Canada?

Lundy and Roberts you need to focus on the employers first, the employees are there.

David Higgins


Pay them well

How to resolve staff shortage problem: If you cannot afford to pay your employees a minimum of $15 per hour, get out of business or work the hours yourself. Pay them well and they will come.

Pay them well and they will find their own housing.

Pay them well and they will make Whistler their home. Can you not see this?

Suzanne Morrissey


A parting shot

My wife and I made the decision to leave this beautiful town recently and in the beginning I had nothing but sadness for the things we were giving up. The air, night sky, quiet neighbourhoods and general feeling of safety. This will be the last week I can leave my car door unlocked.

Having spent the last two weeks in Vancouver, starting a new job, finding a place to live, I have a new perspective on why we are moving.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler, in its current incarnation, is Disneytown. Mickey’s mountain home if you will. It is governed by a well-meaning council of truly intelligent and caring people. But the shadow government that is behind Tourism Whistler is ruining this town’s chances at survival.

Until now, sustainability in the RMOW, has meant protecting the status quo, artificially inflating the retail rents, minimizing low cost housing with an ownership band-aid called Whistler Housing that leaves no one happy, and a small elitist group calling themselves true Whistleristes, protecting the image and culture that they hold so dear.

It is time to take this town by force and kick Tourism Whistler out of municipal politics. Intrawest seemed like it may have everyone’s best interest at heart. $99 hotel rooms and extreme sports fill their coffers but fill the village with thuggery and Red Bull-addicted weekenders here to tear it up and leave.

Meanwhile, a lack of low cost pure rental apartments has workers living on the brink of poverty, having to work two or three jobs while they are here, ensuring they can't enjoy the place they came to ski/bike.

Whistler has a chance at true sustainability as soon as the electorate wakes up and takes what is theirs. A democratic action that will kick the federal government, Tourism Whistler and Fortress out of municipal politics and get down to the dirty business of sustainable growth.

A waste treatment facility, a hydro power station, dense multi-storey apartment complexes that focus on renting rooms rather than profit for millionaire absentee landlords from abroad. These are the issues of the day. A peak to peak lift subsidized by the federal government makes for good tourist headlines at the beginning of the ski season, but does it help build a community?

Until now, those seeking a community life in the Sea to Sky have built commuter towns in Pemberton and Squamish. My wife and I have always been against commuting to work and surely this can't be part of the 2020 vision we hear so much about.

Affordable rental accommodation, a commitment to infrastructure improvements and zoning that allows more than plastic remakes of a Swiss theme park are a start. But until the voters decide that this loose corporate government that allocates hard earned tax dollars towards a corporation for sale to the highest bidder, it is unlikely that anything will be done.

When Dow Chemical decides to buy this little mountain town will the voters then decide it's time to take these seats back from TW and tell the feds that what we want is a real community, less concerned with branding and more concerned with living together, affordably, under this bright night sky?

Michael Jenkins


So long, Whistler

Dear Whistler:

You have lost another long time local professional due to the lack of affordable housing and high cost of living. After being in Whistler for eight years, I have watched you grow, and yet the same problems still exist.

While I leave here with a broken heart, I am excited about living somewhere new. I will be back to visit – the city is not that far away. You are a beautiful town Whistler, and I will miss you and all you have to offer.

I am sad to leave my friends, but the memories will last a lifetime. Some people will be missed (especially RT), others will not. Thanks for the good times.

Kelly Johnston


A difficult decision

I read the story of the failure of the sledge hockey arena with mixed emotions. On the one hand, it would have been a nice thing to have, but at $40,000,000 over the VANOC funds allotted, it would have been a crushing financial burden on the community. I have to commend council for making the difficult, and perhaps unpopular decision to kill it.

If I could make one suggestion for Lot 1/9, it would be please, please, don’t knock it flat and cover it with concrete paving stones. Whistler desperately needs some green space in the village where people can sit on a lawn, have a picnic, or walk in a garden. All that would be needed would be to clear out the underbrush, fill some of the lower lying areas for putting lawns and gardens in, and perhaps adding a much need public toilet.

The other thing I would love to see in that area would be an outdoor family sized skating rink. The village has plazas coming out the wazoo, and the last thing we need is another one. While a larger plaza may be needed for the Olympics, I can’t see a space of that size being utilized again. Perhaps a better suggestion would be to close off a day skier lot, and turn that into a temporary plaza instead.

David Buzzard


A museum as a legacy

Thank you mayor and council for making a wise decision regarding the sledge hockey arena. You had the best interests of the taxpayers in mind.

Now that we have $4.2 million to spend, why not build a nice little museum on a portion of that land? Centrally located, easily accessed by visitors and locals alike, it would indeed be a lasting legacy from the 2010 Games.

M. Rickli


Nita Lake’s new problem

Much has been written and talked of bear problems in residential properties; I have one of my own.

We have had a number of bears going through our property every year feeding on berries; never had any problems, we are getting along just fine.

What concerns me is the increase in bear traffic since construction of the Nita Lake housing development came into full swing. Constantly I am picking up garbage and partially empty food containers thrown onto our property. Several times I have seen bears, one with a collar, enter the construction site and the houses. Could there be a food source? The answer is obvious.

I am concerned what happens when the owners have moved in and the bears are habituated.

Having said this, the municipality could set an example of good housekeeping by emptying its bear-proof container beside the new bus shelter, which has been unlocked and overflowing with garbage for over a week.

Werner Himmelsbach


Ride On, Ken and Whistler

RE: The Ken Quon "Ride On"

"Ride On". We will. This year’s Ken Quon "Ride On" race, ride and après barbecue was an unqualified success. The goal was to provide on behalf of WORCA, Ken’s family, and friends the opportunity to keep Ken’s legacy of "giving back" to the Whistler community alive. As a result of the Aug. 20 event the Whistler Ambulance Service will be receiving a "cutting edge" Vital Signs Monitoring System that can be used in the field and during transport, on the ground or in the air. The ProPac is just a little something to say "Thank You" to the community of Whistler for all that you do to embrace and accommodate biking in Whistler. Nowhere is there a stronger bond between the two than here in Whistler.

The "Ride On" received tremendous cooperation from the following:

Buffy and Nigel Woods for the fantastic setting at the Riverside R.V. Campground;

The laid back strumming of Rob Funk; and, Colin, at the Riverside Café, for keeping us legal;

Brad Skerret and his team from the Longhorn Saloon and Grill, who managed to "rustle up a few Canadians" for the occasion;

The Wild Willies Ride Guide Team, who jumped in and performed any task when called upon;

Lieutenant Dave Rushbrook, of the W.F.D. and his crew of regular and volunteer firefighters;

Unit Chief Bill MacDonald, and the paramedics from the Whistler Ambulance service;

Manager, Tim Pugh and the entire IGA family, for their heartfelt and tireless effort;

Francis Chiasson, of RE/MAX Sea to Sky Real Estate. Behind Francis stood a great woman – thank you, Ann, and the entire Whistler RE/MAX team; and, to all who volunteered in any way.

Thank you ALL, riders included.

If you were a donator (Betty) or a supplier of a prize to "Ride On", please feel that your contribution "WILL make a difference" in the improved capability of standard of care for the whole Whistler community.

Next year’s "Ride On" will take place on Aug. 20, 2007, which is one week earlier than this year’s event, so-as-not-to conflict with Pemberton’s wonderful slow food ride. Please make the "Ride On" a MUST in 2007. Remember the whole family can race or ride. I hope Ken would have approved of the day.

Tom Thomson


A true celebration

On behalf of Tourism Whistler, I would like to thank the community, sponsors and TW members who helped make the 2nd annual Whistler Music and Arts Festival such a success.

From the Whistler Theatre Project animation, to glass blowers in Mountain Square, the best of ArtWalk and the musical mainstage, the WMAF truly was a celebration of music and art.

The Whistler moments included the extended set played by the emerging crooner Matt Dusk as the sun went down, Fred Penner partying with Velvet, and the Paperboys closing the festival with unparalleled energy to an enthusiastic crowd.

We would also like to commend Jay Wahono for his efforts in producing the Helping Hands fundraiser at MY Place. Tourism Whistler and the WMAF were proud to be supporters of this very well produced, talent filled show.

Very special thanks to the Rocky Mountain Productions team, Shauna Hardy, Kristen Robinson, Michelle Payette and Lynn Chappell for their passion, energy and vision in making this event so much fun.

We are already planning for the 2007 edition to be bigger and better!

Oliver Flaser

Director, Partnerships and Promotions

Tourism Whistler