(Here) is a little bit of Mayor Ken Melamed's year-end message presented at the Dec. 21 /2010 council meeting: "Our Chief Administrative Officer, Mr. Bill Barratt deserves a huge thanks and enormous credit."
It looks like Mr. Barratt got his enormous credit - $208,000/yr, seven weeks of paid holidays, a car allowance of $700/month, gas, insurance, repairs, great pension and the list goes on... I hope Mr. Barratt and his fellow managers enjoyed their eight to 40 per cent raises between 2007 and 2010, as finally the community has opened its eyes to the gravy train and it looks like it's over.
I presume the Mayor won't be saying as many nice things now that Mr. Barratt is suing the taxpayers for $400,000 plus, but as Mr. Barratt has stated, "it's not about the money." If not, Bill, just accept an apology letter. Actually no letter needed as you said you "would stay on until June 30 (or longer if required)."
News Flash: not required. If Mr. Barratt actually felt that (he) truly had been terminated why did (he) attend a retirement party thrown in (his) honor to celebrate 30 years at the RMOW, accept gifts and then turn around and try and sue? Wow...
The comic view
It looks like Whistler taxpayers are going to have to "grin and Barratt."
Beware Whistler taxpayer
It would appear one egotistical maniac disguised as Bill Barratt is on the loose. His concern "that his reputation has been damaged" in the events surrounding his retirement is unfounded and he should look in the mirror. Sadly, Mr. Barratt himself has taken his reputation to the lowest possible level. His conceited, superior, overbearing, pompous, presumptuous attitude, which has been on display during his tenure as the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of the RMOW can only be driven by one thing, that being his feeling of self importance and who cares about everyone else.
While I don't begin to speak on behalf of every taxpayer in the municipality I am sure that most feel his money grab is unwarranted and shameful. The stigma that he has brought on himself can only add to his infamy.
Possibly the time and energy that is being put into the latest financial snatch could be better spent attempting to mend a reputation. While it may not be as profitable as a lawsuit it clearly would be easier to remain in the community.
Just a brief letter to comment on the appalling language of our former CAO Bill Barratt 's interview last week.
There is a large taxpaying portion of Whistler's population who I am certain find the expletives coming from Mr. Barratt's mouth vulgar. What CAO or politician would choose to pepper their public comments with those words?
Privately very possibly but in a public statement providing your side of the story? My mother always taught me that people resort to profanity when their vocabulary is limited and it reflects one's class, dignity and education. In addition those words are used to intimidate. I wonder if perhaps these words were freely flying around municipal hall?
Whatever Mr. Barratt's motivation is for the lawsuit, if he could please use language that is respectful towards the citizens of Whistler (that would be appreciated).
"If you can't say something nice don't say anything at all."
Dubious Record Surpassed
Last week's local papers broke the long-standing record for quoting profanities in a single issue. Candidates, councillors, pundits and journalists out-cursed, out-swore, out-"ruded" and out marginalized the debate(s) with the prodigious use of various and ill-considered swear words and phrases.
I recognize how passions and frustrations arise in these fractious times. The debates, with swearing as the preferred exclamation point, highlights a small mind, a poor argument and an opinion/position I have no interest in considering.
New RMOW website confusing
I get that the whistler.ca website is primarily an information resource for residents of Whistler, but no doubt many potential visitors end up visiting this website while considering their visit to our beautiful community.
I am simply blown away that the RMOW can justify spending $50,000 of our taxpayers' money on their (so-called) new and improved website.
The design is amateurish to say the least and does nothing to showcase our community. From a viewer stand point there is no improved functionality and in fact I would dare to say that it has taken a step back as there is no clear call to actions anymore, and one big, confusing, hard-to-read menu. Being a web developer myself and having experience with Drupal (their chosen CMS system) I can tell you that if they in fact paid $50,000 for this website, they paid far, far too much.
Well at least they came in under their original $80,000 budget. Maybe they can use the extra money they saved and put that towards legal fees in the Bill Barratt wrongful dismissal suit.
Film Festival still marquee event
When Kasi Lubin and I founded the Whistler Film Festival in 2001, we did it with the intention of putting Whistler on the map for arts and culture. Our vision remains two-fold. First, to be one of the top film festivals in the world and secondly, to establish Whistler as a pre-eminent destination that connects the art and business of film by being a must attend for filmmakers.
The scope and scale of the Whistler Film Festival Society has grown considerably since our inception. Today, our charitable cultural organization produces a well-respected, credible event on the international film festival circuit, augmented by film presentations and professional development programs throughout the year.
The Festival's impact to date has been significant for Whistler, for British Columbia's film industry, and for Canada's international reputation in this important art form. In the past decade, the Festival has hosted over 70,000 attendees, 4,000 industry delegates, screened 707 films and facilitated 1,521 industry meetings and over $76 million in deals. The five-day Festival generates an annual estimated economic impact of over $10 million for Whistler, resulting in incremental room nights at the start of the winter season, in addition to increased sales for the food and beverage, retail, goods and services and activity sectors.
Location remains one of our greatest assets. Whistler is located just a short drive from Vancouver, North America's third largest film production centre (after Los Angeles and New York). Vancouver generates over $1.2 billion in film and television business annually, and is Canada's largest digital centre, valued at over $3 billion annually. Vancouver has the major advantage of being in the same time zone and close to Hollywood, the world centre of the trillion-dollar entertainment industry.
With two new significant international initiatives - our China Canada Gateway for Film which will establish Whistler as the business gateway for developing film industry co-productions and funding between China and Canada, and our new partnership with Variety, the world's leading source of entertainment news - we expect our impact to double within the next five years. Moreover, we are confident that these new opportunities will serve to propel us to the next level and attract new partners and funding sources.
We experienced a serious financial set back this year with the loss of our seven-year presenting partner. We are of course immensely grateful for American Express' partnership, and have been working diligently to recover with several major opportunities in development. However, we all know the past few years have not been without economic hardships, and that it takes time to make progress. We are very grateful for the support of the RMOW, which has made a considerable investment in the long-term success of the Whistler Film Festival Society to date, and whose unanimous vote of Council to support a one-time redeployment of RMI funds will ensure that we can continue our efforts. Moreover, the decision reinforced the community's commitment to a cultural tourism mandate, of which the Whistler Film Festival was identified as one of only five Lead Cultural Experiences currently available in Whistler. Hence, with the continued support of the RMOW, in addition to significant cuts to our budget, an increase in ticket prices, and a fee for service contract, we are well on our way to recovery for 2011.
From November 30 to December 4, 2011, the Whistler Film Festival will celebrate its 11 th edition as one of Canada's leading festivals, attracting up to 10,000+ attendees and 500+ industry insiders.
Featuring innovative and original films from around the world to discover and opportunities to connect with the people who made them, the Festival will be filled more premieres than ever before, star studded guests and lively celebrations.
And while this year's festival will be scaled back, there will most certainly be an Opening Gala. What there will not be is an invitation to 400 of American Express' top Whistler-based merchants to attend a VIP reception and Gala as their guest. After seven years of attending for "free," Whistler will see value in the $30 ticket.
Passes, ticket packages and accommodation are now available at whistlerfilmfestival.com . Our 2011 program will be announced by November 10 with individual tickets available online at that time.
The Whistler Film Festival is poised to help accelerate our community's progress towards success, sustainability and international impact. Please put it on your calendars and come out to enjoy the world of film.
We would greatly appreciate your support!
Shauna Hardy Mishaw
Executive Director and Founder Whistler Film Festival Society
( This letter was edited for length. For the full version please go to www.piquenewsmagazine.com )
Time for a new transit plan
It's October and that time of year again. Many locals call it "dead season!" For some that means that business has slowed down to graveyard status and it's time to search for that old fallen tree to cut up and split before winter arrives. It's also a good time to reflect on the past year as the snow hits the mountaintops, frost arrives and leaves change colours to create a new visual landscape of the beautiful Whistler valley.
It's also still a wonderful time for our tourists to visit.
I've been coming to Whistler for 40 years now and have just reached my first anniversary living and working here full-time. Driving a taxi 60 hours per week has given me the opportunity to meet many that have come from afar to spend a few days, weeks, months or years here in the global village and valley. It's also given me the opportunity to have a close look at the transportation equation that Whistler provides for both locals and visitors, a transportation system that currently operates far from efficiently or even close to break even. Many that use Whistler Transit may not know that the system you ride upon was subsidized by federal, provincial and local governments. A new hydrogen fleet and transit system conceived and acquired at a time when the world economy was performing much better and local residential, commercial and industrial roads construction was still booming. Times were good for all back then but those times are no longer for many!
The very controversial proposition of pay parking in our village parking lots is in part to assist in paying for the great white elephant of Whistler Transit. This at the expense of many that do not use public transit and also at the expense of many taxi drivers that have been working 12 plus hour shifts to scratch out a meager living.
It's time that the mayor and council take a real look at the local transportation equation and adjust it to the new world economic reality.
Coming from a personal background of previous self-employment, I know how to make economic adjustments and I often view any business or system I am in from an operations perspective. I have been using public transportation systems extensively for the past decade in the cities of Vancouver, Calgary, Kelowna and now Whistler. I can tell you that Whistler does not have the tax base to sustain the current hydrogen fleet or to provide the service it does at $2.50 per fare or $65.00 per monthly pass. Service is both over extended and undercharged for services provided. It operates in a community that has peak demand times where buses operate at over capacity and provides service at other times when only a hand full of people or less are riding south of Creekside or North of Alpine Meadows.
Here is a solution! Sell our hydrogen fleet to a community that can afford it. Kelowna would be a very good potential prospect as they have a much larger local tax base to draw upon and have real air quality issues at times. Replace the hydrogen fleet with new conventional transit buses that cost far less per unit. Integrate both taxi companies operating in Whistler into the transportation equation by running all new leased Toyota hybrids, taxis sedans and taxis passenger vans from the same base of operations.
Route taxis would be shared by passengers and replace buses that are virtually running close to empty on bus routes. They would pick up and drop off at bus stops and charge a fee per person per transportation zone - a reasonable fee to be established based on the distance travelled. Dispatch taxis operate as they currently do but would be based and mechanically serviced at the Whistler Transit facility.
Maximum demand for transit bus service occurs between the Whistler Village and Creekside and fluctuates from season to season. Secondary demand occurs south of Creekside to Bayshores and Tamerisk and north, west and east to Nesters, Whistler Cay, Whitegold, Spruce Grove and Alpine Meadows. Spring Creek, Cheakamus Crossing, Function Junction, Westside Rd. and Rainbow and Emerald Estates are all low demand locations and should largely be serviced by both route taxi and dispatch taxi service.
In the best interests of locals and visitors I would urge the current taxi owners, Whistler Transit and mayor and council to meet and entertain this potential reformatting of transportation to discuss the viability of such a system so that we can effectively offer optimum transportation and an integrated transportation system that truly serves this valley and its visitors.
In a footnote to all this, please, no more free shuttle buses! They cost money to operate and people should pay to use them, alternatively take a taxi or walk. People arriving or leaving town should also not be boarding transit buses with all their ski/boarding gear, bags and suitcases in tow. They should hire a taxi! That's what I did when I travelled abroad as a skier in Europe in years past and so should they. Being in Whistler simply costs money... Seeing the end of over capacity and bulging buses between 3:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. during our winter ski season would also surely be welcomed by all users of the local transit system. Much to think about, much to talk about and hopefully much to do! Yes the leaves of fall will fall where they fall in "dead season," but the seeds of new thought should always be thrown out to those that can make a difference in the best interests of our community and all our visitors.
Brian Wolfgang Becker
( This letter was edited for length. For the full version please go to www.piquenewsmagazine.com )
Everyone is a poet.
This year Whistler's Readers and Writers Festival October 14-16 is all about poetry.
Remember? When you were six or seven or eight? And your words burned brightly, as John Keats said of poetry. Because you felt deeply. And saw. Really saw things.
Then you grew up. And read poetry in school that was nothing like your poetry. Or you were embarrassed to read your poetry. It was just a little too... revealing.
If you go back, inside your inside voice. I bet there are poems lingering there. Waiting for you.
At this year's Festival we have the Scottish poet John Glenday, short-listed for the Griffin International Poetry Prize for his collection Grain. Pick up a copy of his book. It's a true paperback. A slim volume that you can shove in your back pocket and pull out and read and reread anywhere: on a bus, waiting on a curb, on a plane, on a train or a gondola, waiting for your friend at dinner. His poems are like gemstones - polished and perfect.
We have Barbara Adler too, spoken word poet extraordinaire. She will delight you with her smart fast riffs and long trailing stories that swirl like a twister. Her poems are funny and informative and poignant and beautiful. And how does she remember all of those words? The one about the sealing wax made me weep. Then she picked up her accordion and I wanted to dance. I was thinking we have to bring her to Whistler. So we asked her. And she said yes.
I'd doing a workshop at the festival too: Out of Chaos: Cultivating Calm. About bringing together wildly incompatible things. Your things.
My father-in-law is a geologist and he told me once that at the bottom of the ocean there is a layer of basalt stone. I've probably embellished what he said, but I saw solid rock that connected the whole of earth. That's where my poems come from. I dive down to that rocky place where all oceans meet, and I look at things, and then I dredge, dredge. Bringing up a bit of this and a bit of that, always trying to make things connect.
Come out and join us. Everyone is a poet. Tickets available at www.theviciouscircle.ca
We are over-policed
I'd like to thank Leslie Anthony for his article last week ( Pique Sept.22, 2011) bringing to light the over policing of our town.
I am a long time local and recently my friends and I were a part of an unnecessary and uncalled for altercation with the Whistler police (RCMP). After an evening of celebrating the upcoming wedding of two very good friends, our wedding group was crossing the street at Northlands Blvd. and Village Gate. As we were crossing the light changed, and as the last of the group finished crossing, a cop car suddenly (put) on the gas, barely missed a group of pedestrians, ran the red light, then came to a screeching halt in the middle of the street to reprimand the groom and demand to see his ID.
He claimed that (the groom) had "jaywalked" and was going to issue a ticket. After much discussion (and smoothing over by the bride-to-be) (the groom) was let go.
Our group was absolutely appalled by the actions of the officer. Perhaps he had seen too many Hollywood movies and felt it was appropriate to nearly run over people on the street and create a dangerous circumstance for the motorists on the road? This kind of policing is dangerous and completely pointless.
We live in an amazing place and it seems as though this summer our police have had nothing better to do than chastise harmless locals - the people whose heart and soul go into this town and keep it running. Someone needs to take a good look at what is going on here, and I hope that more people step forward to tell their stories.
Wonderful Summer Events
On behalf of the Hotel Association of Whistler, I would like to add our voice to the chorus of compliments the Resort Municipality of Whistler has most deservedly received on the 2011 summer concert series.
We would also like to recognize the several levels of government for having the vision to create the Whistler Olympic Plaza, and for the hard work involved in reaching agreement on the funding model for the summer concert series .
The "Whistler Vibe" was certainly present this summer and I personally heard many guests and Whistlerites describe the feeling in the resort to be similar to the special "vibe" over the Olympics.
Tourism Whistler's efforts promoting the many excellent events, activities and reasons to visit, including supporting the RMOW marketing on the concert series was very prominent this year.
The Hotel Association of Whistler is in full support of Whistler-based priorities for a portion of our accommodation tax, and looks forward to opportunities to work with the RMOW, Tourism Whistler and other stakeholders moving forward.
Finally, thank you to the "Resort Animation" team and the RMOW for all its endeavours this past summer. The efforts to increase activities and impact the "Guest Contact Zone" were very prevalent. On behalf of everyone, we thank you for not only your efforts, but also and most importantly the wonderful result.
Chair, Hotel Association of Whistler
Sunstone Ridge:Loss of our heritage
The new development called Sunstone Ridge Development (including Ravens Crest, Lil'wat Nation and Sabre Group all together) is slowly making its way between Pemberton and Mount Currie, "en-globing" in their boundaries at least the 85 per cent of our local (easy access from Town) fantastic Trail Network. The development includes open spaces... parks and trails. But really, what is going to be left? Trails between high-density condominiums, half finished hotels and gaping holes in our hills?
Our government gave the upper side of this Hillside to the Lil'wat Nation, which is now planning on developing the slope all around Mosquito Lake. What a great Olympic legacy. Bye-bye everything we came here for.
One suspicion that comes to mind is - is this development a ploy to log an area that may ultimately never be developed for short-term gain for a few individuals?
Twenty to 30 years of intense building will bring many jobs in the construction and logging industry and then what?
This side of Pemberton will be blasted a bit more and will show a start of our planet cancer: high-density housing: How many people is this going to bring over the next 25 years, 2,500-3,000 units on the plans... maybe over 5,000 people, 2,000 dogs (at least) and cats will be chasing wildlife on the MacKenzie Ridge (you can say goodbye to the endangered species like the sharp tail snake). Commercial zoning, a hotel resort on the edge of Mosquito Lake, tourism accommodation between the two lakes. This place is more conducive to a tent.
Planning such a high-density Hillside is to my point of view not related well to this farming community we all live in.
Do we want high-density in Pemberton? Think twice, but not for long. It is happening. Act now and not tomorrow when it might be too late.
Keep building around the Village, where easy access & sustainability makes sense. The future is "no driving."
I urge everyone who feels concerned about this subject, all outdoor enthusiasts, trail lovers, residents of the close area, to come to the next public hearing on Phase 1 of the development called Ravens Crest at the public hearing on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. in the Pemberton Community Center. Only the bottom part of Raven's Crest will be discussed for now. If you are affected by the proposed bylaw amendment, remember to start your talk by saying clearly if you are "in support or not" of this matter.
Luckily, the council members will be recognizing the impacts of their decisions on the residents of this healthy community.
This matter doesn't have to be rushed before the elections. This subject is highly important to most of us living in here.
Ivey Lake, BC
Thanks in a time of tragedy
Last week I travelled to the Pemberton Valley. My task - deliver my daughter's mare and filly to Dreamcatcher Meadows for care and training.
Our daughter Kelly died suddenly while visiting Dreamcatcher Meadows on August 24.
Kelly was an Equine Canada Level One Coach, a competent rider who always wore a helmet and safety vest. She was riding in a safe and controlled environment moving at a trot. We have all heard stories about the basketball player who collapses and dies tragically because of a heart flutter. This is what we believe happened to Kelly.
It is a blessing of a sort that it did happen while she was doing something that she loved to do, and that she did not suffer in any way.
Which of us would not wish that for ourselves, or our loved ones? Our family is filled with thanks to John (Dingle) and Jill (Giese) who assisted and coordinated the emergency response. They acted quickly and did everything humanly possible to help Kelly.
Each of the first responders, ambulance crew, police and health centre professionals responded in a timely and professional manner. Please know that we appreciate all that you did in those terrible moments of crisis. Our hearts go out to each of you as you struggle to focus on your daily tasks putting into perspective the tragic loss of a person so young.
Please know that this was not a death resulting from the careless actions of an unthinking young person testing fate or the limits of speed and alcohol. Nor was it a death caused by an unruly powerful animal. Kelly, at 22 years of age, was an accomplished equestrian; she was also a recent UVic graduate. She loved life and lived it to the fullest.
Her wish for you would be that you do the same. We have no doubt that her mare and foal will flourish in this environment. Some of you may have met our younger daughter Nicole who spent all of the summer at Dreamcatcher Meadows. She continues to visit the farm for lessons and training. As parents we cannot thank John and Jill enough for their care and welcoming support.
So, to the villagers of Pemberton, thank you for your community, for those who serve and protect you and all who come to visit.
Brenda Fowler and Stephen Berthelot
On behalf of the Myrtle Philip cross country running team, we would like to thank all the amazing parents who volunteered to make the district meet held at Myrtle Philip Community School such a success. Our students were thrilled to host a meet for students from Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton, and Mt. Currie, and the day would not have been possible without all the parents who helped on course. Thanks for giving the students a chance to shine!
Lisa Smart for Myrtle Philip's school coaches and staff.
New Callaghan Trail a boon for backcountry skiing
Since the creation of Whistler Olympic Park (WOP), backcountry skiers have been marginalized as users of the area. Plans to build alpine access trails were shelved by (The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic Games), and there have been multiple disputes over fees charged for backcountry skiing at WOP.
The proposed Madeley Highline Trail will be the first trail built by WOP that will be a significant benefit to backcountry skiers seeking access to untracked snow beyond the WOP boundary. The trail will allow skiers to easily reach upper Beverley Creek and the south ridge of Puma Peak directly from the Nordic core area.
Upper Beverley Creek has a number of excellent ski runs, including some great terrain for novice backcountry skiers, which is hard to find in the Sea to Sky corridor. Puma South Peak is a fine moderate one-day ski ascent. This area is well connected, allowing skiers to do loops or traverses, such as crossing over Rainbow Lake to connect to Alta Lake Road in Whistler. Upper Beverley Creek is currently only a practical trip for stronger backcountry skiers. The new trail will make getting into and out of the area easier, opening it up for beginners and intermediates. By offering backcountry skiers something worth paying for, I think the new trail will help to repair the bruised relationship between WOP and the backcountry skiing community.
While the impact of this trail on the Wildland Zone may appear to be a concern, the Rainbow Mountain Wildland Zone is currently facing much worse threat from high snowmobile use. The area has been completely overrun by snowmobiles for much of the past few winters. These screaming machines are so loud you can hear them from many kilometers away. They penetrate to the heart of the Wildland area in 21-Mile Creek on a regular basis, an area zoned non-motorized in the LRMP "to maintain the zone for quiet enjoyment by the public."
The impact of these machines is huge compared to a cross-country ski trail on the perimeter of the Wildland.
In order to preserve the wilderness character of the Wildland, stopping snowmobiles should be the first priority, not opposing the Madeley Highline Trail.
Say no to Squamish gondola idea
A gondola between the Squamish Chief and Shannon Falls seems to me a terrible idea. Instead we should build a trail that will encourage the people in our society to walk and be fully in nature.
A trail would be the most environmentally sound choice in a most holistic way. A gondola, on the other hand, would be a huge project that not only would cut down more trees, but would also use steel, power, electricity, etc, etc.
The proponents say, "they are going up to a previously logged area," which sounds like they are trying to excuse themselves for the environmental damage their project will have. Logged or not logged, tress are still precious. Its estimated that BC has only 40 per cent of its original forest, so does that make it OK to build over the remaining 60 per cent that has been logged?
I am a resident of Squamish currently visiting Colorado where I have seen hundreds of people of all shapes and sizes walking up a three-mile long trail going through the famous (and very touristy) Rocky Mountain National Park. If these people can walk, so can we.
A trail (instead of a gondola) in the Squamish location may not benefit the pockets of the proponents, but it would benefit the health and well being of the people and the planet.
I say "no" to the gondola.
It's all about the profits
Just wondering why there is no drinking fountain at the new Nanaimo passenger terminal. I was told that it was because of health issues at the Duke Point terminal water fountain?
Not sure how that works but if that's the honest answer I guess BC Ferries has a lot of work a head of them. I guess the first place to start would be all the other terminals with water fountains should be decommissioned.
Then they can start working on all of their ships because they all have (water fountains). Maybe start with the washrooms first because having a water fountain in the washroom must be a health hazard.
But if they really want to save some money install a drinking fountain at the new Nanaimo terminal sooner than later. We all know why there is no water fountain at the new terminal; it's about selling more beverages from the vender's. In other words it's about the money and screw the health and environment by selling a lot more plastic than we really need.
Legal action disgusts
After the shock of Bill Barratt's civil suit wore off, I was dismayed by the news article that was published in the Pique (Sept.29, 2011 ) . I'm sure I am not the only Whistler resident who feels offended and disgusted by his legal action, after everything WE as a town have been through together.
I often see the Pique as the true voice of Whistler, publishing what the vast majority of locals are too afraid to say. However, Alison Taylor's "Bill Barratt says lawsuit not about the money" article seemed so off-base in tone, that I actually felt dejected, like my beloved news magazine and I were for once, not on the same page.
The angle of the article portrayed Barratt as a victim, when in fact WE are the victims. I ask you, who will suffer the consequences of his greed and arrogance? WE will, through taxes, parking rates, and lost services. Mr. Barratt should know the financial burdens of the RMOW better than anyone, yet while the town relishes in its final days of free parking in Lots 4 and 5, he has decided to further strain our town's budget.
If anything has damaged Mr. Barratt's precious reputation it is this ridiculous lawsuit and his public selfishness that will cost us all, and shame on you, Pique , for the suggestion of his righteousness.