I was disturbed to read Dr. Maxwell's Oct. 22 screed.
I do not normally read newspapers; I find them unsettling. But there is a lot of news about these days and I thought I'd have a look.
There is, in particular, a surfeit of news related to the upcoming Olympics here in my hometown. (Well, not exactly my hometown... I grew up in West Vancouver and had to hitchhike here until I could afford to buy a house.) But I am quite interested in the Olympics; the run-up to it has given all of us six years of in-your-headlights highway improvements, just as promised by the provincial government, and those folks do keep their promises, don't they? Right down to the last nickel.
My father, a lumber trader for the now-historical Macmillan-Bloedel Co., had two other hobbies: travel and history. He schooled me in the latter; one of my earliest memories is being read a bedtime story about the murder of Tsar Nicholas and his family by the Bolsheviks. One of my earliest field trips, in 1966, ran me into postwar East London, much of it still in ruins.
Dad took passage on a ship from Montreal to London not too long after the 1936 Berlin Olympics. His travel plans were to get as far East as possible, including Germany... and, if he could, Russia. He got increasingly nervous as time and distance passed, and turned around in the fall of 1937. Read the Signs, as it were. His take on the course of events in Europe at that time included a detailed analysis of how a military dictatorship buried German democracy.
Many years later, as a cabdriver in Vancouver, I met a German lady who was a child in Munich during WWII. She told me the locals, by and large, had no idea of the horrors of the internment camps, and the brutalities inflicted by the SS, until the end of the war.
We are perilously close to such a situation now. Just as in 1936, the Big Show is more important than the rights and freedoms given us by the best of lawyers and lawmakers, and by ourselves.
We never had a real opportunity to debate, as a town, whether to host this insanely expensive Olympics, nor to debate whether it should be a public priority to host such an event. This lack of opportunity to choose such an event - or to veto its coming - has turned into a freefall for local democracy. None of us have much of a say, nor have we had one from the start. We should take this as a sign of how our leaders respect our constitutional rights.
We will have something like 3,500 police, army and security in Whistler by February. This works out to about 35 per cent of the permanent population.
How do you know when you have a police state? One sure way is when most of the people in your state are police.
It's kind of like plastic surgeons in Hollywood or lawyers in New York -way too many for a healthy culture.
So: find your MLA, find your MP and let them know what you think. And please school them in democracy.
Giving up what Canadians fought for
As we approach Remembrance Day I wish to apologize to the 280,000 Canadians of the Armed Services who have been casualties in the First, Second and Korean Wars and now Afghanistan for being part of a community which is encouraging the provincial government to pass Bill 13. If enacted this Bill will severely curtail the rights that you sacrificed your health and in too many cases your lives in order that we could enjoy freedom of speech and a democratic society.
We have not upheld our end of the bargain in giving up what you fought for at unimaginable personal costs to you and your families in order to appease a corporate/political frolic that was once a respected athletic event.
My sincere apologies.
Bill 13 and other questionable measures
This is not about whether you support the Olympics or not; this is much more important (and basic).
Special interest groups are trying to hijack the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Big business and politicos are posturing on the first step of that slippery slope and I am relieved that there are watchdogs alert in our society to remind us how that thin line gets blurred all the time. We must never take our civil rights for granted, or we will lose them.
I am grateful to Pique for having the fortitude to print a none-too-subtle, inflammatory (but justifiably outraged) rant from Maxwell. The article speaks to the value of freedom of speech (and opinion) - a liberty that many people on our planet don't enjoy. Thank goodness I live in Canada, and thank goodness there are folks around that stand on guard for thee.
We won. Let's celebrate
In July 2003 Whistler and Vancouver were granted the 2010 Games. Public opinion had been consulted and as a majority, we wanted the event. This decision was made six years ago. We won.
Less than 100 days before the Games, our local papers are full of negative print without any point other than the right to bitch and complain under some umbrella called free speech. What a waste of paper, including whole back pages. For me and much of the community, it's embarrassing. Newsprint had opportunity for informative and intellectual dialogue. For example, expressing opposition toward the financial burden we will pay at the conclusion of one great party, yet there is little of that.
And, I'm pretty sure it is going to be one fabulous party. We asked for it as a democratic whole. We got it. There is no stopping it.
At your wedding ceremony, you really didn't want free speech or protest did you? It's done. Maybe you didn't get your way but the majority did. The world is coming. Don't be a poor sport. Be gracious. Be welcoming. Be Canadian. Be proud.
And if that's not possible, be silent.
Rethinking the Olympics
I am happy to say that I have finally been signed up for an Olympic volunteer position. Now don't get me wrong, I didn't jump on the Olympic bandwagon right away. I cringed at the financial investment and knew that it could be better spent elsewhere.
My thinking changed when listening to CBC radio last week and the two guests were the mayors at the time of the Olympics in Calgary and Torino. Their message was summed up like this: "the Olympics are coming whether you like it or not, your city/town is going to be showcased around the world like this one time only, make the best of it, have fun and make it look great!"
I have lived in Whistler and Pemberton for 20 years, and I love it. Yes, it is more expensive then other places; yes, it has its problems, but what place doesn't? At least we live in one of the most beautiful surroundings with generous, kind, giving and community-minded people. We have nature's playground at our doorstep!
So bottom line, the reason why I finally got involved with the Olympics is so that I can be an ambassador to the place I call my home. I want people to have the best time when they are here, so they will want to come back, tell their friends what an amazing experience they had. They will shop in our stores, eat at our restaurants, rent our homes/condos, book our hotels rooms/B & B's, buy our homes and drink in our coffee shops. It's not just about the athletes; it is about all of us!
In this economic downturn other resorts would love to have this spotlight. We "locals" will be the marketers of Whistler, Pemberton and Squamish, so we can either bitch and complain or make the most of this amazing opportunity!
I am sorry I was away when Brian Williams was in town. He is a very likable speaker. It is his job that I detest.
With all due respect I would like to turn on my TV and watch a scheduled Olympic event with a fair amount of the contenders featured, not The Brian Williams Show. Canadian Olympic coverage in the past has been painful to watch when compared to European coverage. Thank goodness they could not get away with butchering hockey the way they do other disciplines.
Now that the Games are at home it will be interesting to see if our ratio of athletic coverage versus commentator-advertiser coverage improves.
It's all about sport
Seems democracy had become an inconvenience in this town.
We'll have a gaggle of fat cats on expense accounts and tax
write-offs waddling into Whistler next February, all looking to be
wined and dined for free.
So what have our councillors and administrators decided to do?
Close the public library for a month and entertain them there.
Nice one guys! Thanks for checking with us. Oh, that's right,
I know, I know - all in the interest of "showing our best side to
the world" during the Games. Canada's Games. Being held on a
mountain owned by a multi-billion-dollar New York hedge fund.
And taking place on the backs of an army of young workers in
town being paid the lowest minimum wage in Canada. A wage
that hasn't been increased in eight years. And where is the only
place in the village those worker ants can go and sit for free?
The library. But not during the Olympics.
Ah well, at least our council and administrators will be available
to stand guard during the library keggers and make sure none of
our new books get swiped. Why? Because they've also decided
to cancel council meetings for over three months around the Games.
Makes sense. Wouldn't want democracy to get in the way of a
good party. (A concept the geeky bureaucrats in Vancouver and
Richmond obviously don't get as they'll be holding their meetings.)
But maybe there's a positive side to this. I'm told many of our teams
are scratching for cash since the recent funding cuts, so perhaps the
muni can hire some of the athletes to serve cocktails and appetizers
at the library between their events.
Or better yet, hire some of the local high school students. They'll be
looking for something to do anyway. And what with B.C.'s super-duper
low wage for students, (if it happens in other countries, we call it child
labour), we can get them much cheaper. And they'll certainly get an
eyeful of how the "real world" works.
Ah, the Olympics... it really is all about sport, isn't it?
'Ideal' leaves no room for alcohol
I am disappointed by the extraordinary effort you have put into supporting the attempt to have the bars and restaurants remain open an extra hour during the Olympic games. You have now written two columns (Oct 15, Oct 29) in support of extended hours, separated appropriately by a column praising the effort required to bring to Whistler an MRI, a machine that will no doubt be used most often to diagnose damage to brain cells.
In my view of life there is an "ideal" which leaves no room for alcohol. It is a view in which the "ideal" purpose is for each one of us to reach out to the limits of our capacities. It is the view on which the "Olympic" ideal of "being the best we can be" was based before it was debased by the purpose of everyone involved in the Olympics trying to win "gold." Our capacities form a continuum that ranges from the physical to the mental and at no time in the history of humanity has alcohol been shown to help us reach out to the limits of our mental capacities. In fact to the contrary, the only purpose alcohol serves is to diminish our mental capacities so that when we are under its influence we are somewhere on the continuum of less than the best we can be that ranges from slightly incapacitated down to the point our mental capacities are completely "wasted."
Now given our predominant dependency on alcohol to accomplish the declared goal to remove at least the edge from our minds with a great Olympic party, I know closing down bars completely for all time, which I advocate, is not an option. Indeed, if Whistler decided to close the bars during the Olympics no one would come and we would confirm without a doubt what "The Games" are essentially about. However, if we were to at least leave the hours the bars are open unchanged we would in a small way be honouring the athletes' Olympic effort to be the best they can be by not adding to the $1 billion security budget needed to prevent us from moving closer to the worst we can be.
Change your bulb, please
It may be time for Mr. Ferreras to set the pen aside and turn on the reading light, or perhaps he just needs to change the bulb (Global warming: the con job we need, Pique'n Your Interest, Oct. 22). Likely then he'd clearly see it is generally accepted that climate change is not a human-only induced event.
Panic, guilt, scams, con jobs...? His "article" is riddled with mockery and negativity at a time when the movement for change could not be more forward-looking and positive. For the part that we are playing in affecting the planet's climate, we are finally moving from talking to acting. It has taken us a lot longer than it should have done, and you know why? Precisely because a bunch of people like Mr. Ferreras took it upon themselves to prove Nietzsche wrong, and their lies have kept us in the dark, stuck in a hole where we have dug ourselves so deep, it will now take a mammoth effort from all of us to climb out. But there are always the types that will put self-interest first no matter what - they were filling their pockets with profits; Mr. Ferreras needed to fill a page with a story.
It's come to the point when we all need to do our part, and willing or not, Mr. Ferreras is no different - at the very least, he will benefit us all if he turns to writing fairy tales; commenting on the real world should be left to those with a greater sense of social responsibility... and energy-efficient bulbs in their reading lamps.
Fuming over smoking bylaws
First let me say as a doorman and a non smoker, I love the fact that you can't smoke in bars anymore. It's just awesome to be able to go home at night not smelling like an ash tray. I was stoked when the smokers had to move to a section of the patio partitioned off from the rest of the staff and our non-smoking guests.
They liked it too, outside in the fresh air, next to a heater, drinking their beer and smoking their cigarettes, that's why we've got two hands isn't it?
Life is good, or so I thought. The smokers are away from me in their smoking section, drinking their beer all happily buzzed on nicotine and alcohol. I'm doing my job, standing at the front door, checking IDs, happy and smoke-free.
But now it seems to have gone that one step too far. No one is allowed to smoke on the patios anymore. Whats the problem you say? To put it simply, all people want to do is smoke a cigarette and drink a beer at the same time.
Now the wonderful people at the Liquor Control Board won't let you take your beer a few metres off the patio so you can have a smoke. The new RMOW smoking bylaws now prohibit you from smoking anywhere on a patio (even if it's completely empty of non smoking people).
So now my employer, in order to avoid fines from the liquor control board and the RMOW, has to place a doorman on the edge of the patio to stop the beer drinkers smoking on the patio and/or taking their beer off the patio to have a smoke. So now I have to be "that guy," the guy that says you can drink here and smoke there but you can't do both together, which I know is all you want to do. It's simply ridiculous and doesn't work.
I don't care how good your people skills are, it's pretty tough to separate a guy dressed as a pirate hooker from his cigarette and beer at 12:30 a.m. on Halloween without ruining his "Whistler Experience." Do you really expect me to start throwing people out of the bar because they want to drink a beer and have a cigarette?
Well, maybe we can make the smokers leave their drinks inside while they go out for a smoke? In this day and age with the risk of being drugged, leaving your drink unattended is just not a safe option.
Every employer in Canada has a "Duty of Care" to provide a safe working environment for their employees. My employer can't do that for me right now because of the new smoking bylaws put forward by the RMOW and the liquor laws from the liquor control board. What am I and all the other doormen around town supposed to do when we get lung cancer a few years from now, forced by the RMOW and the LCB to passively smoke for six hours a night in order to maintain the laws they've set down? I hope you've all got deep pockets because it sounds pretty expensive to me, my $10/hr job finally pays off, but I'd really rather not have lung cancer.
Maybe the lawyers at the RMOW might want to have a little look at this bylaw see if it really makes sense. A partitioned designated smoking section where you can drink a beer and smoke a cigarette on the patio is definitely the way to go.
Many people made dream a reality
On Oct. 31, the Olympic Athletes Village (a.k.a. Cheakamus Crossing) was officially handed over to VANOC - on time and on budget.
So many people had a hand in making this dream a reality. As the only board member of the Whistler Development Corporation that will be living here once the project gets handed back next spring, I would like to personally thank my fellow board members for tirelessly volunteering their time over the past five years; our staff for executing this project with the utmost professionalism; the construction teams for always keeping in mind the big picture and working with (not against) our staff and each other; the WHA; the mayor and RMOW staff; VANOC representatives and everyone else that had a part in making our vision a reality.
It has been a pleasure to work with you all and I want the community to know that everyone involved in this project really cares, which has made all the difference in the world, and has proven that affordable housing can be built with as much quality and integrity as any other housing product in this town.
Melissa McKay, P.Eng.
Board member, Whistler Development Corp.
This is an open letter to thank the residents of Howe Sound for their participation and support of the Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart programs this past year.
Through the dedication of students, parents, staff and the community these programs raised more than $23,000 in local schools in the 2008-09 school year, and over $2.4 million provincially to help fund critical research and save lives in our communities.
Because of this continued support, the Heart and Stroke Foundation is able to provide many prevention resources, including HeartSmart Kids for school-aged children. This program focuses on encouraging children to make heart-healthy lifestyle choices in the areas of healthy eating, active living and being smoke-free.
By participating in the Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart programs, schools demonstrated their commitment, not only to saving lives through the research dollars raised but keeping children in the community healthy, happy and jumping for many years to come.
Thank you for putting your hearts into it.
North Shore Area Office