Treasures mined from the Pique
I find it interesting to live in a community where the local papers are so widely read that they form an integral and important part of the communication process and the sharing of ideas.
In last weeks Pique (May 24, 2002) two writings stood out for me. Both of the articles were written by people I know and respect, both expressed opposition to the status quo, and I agreed with most of what had been stated in both. Yet the styles were so different, they provided me with insightful observations of the varying attitudes and approaches that coexist in this town and reinforced the idea that our lives, community and future are formed by how we choose to be.
The letter to the editor written by Garry Watson; A failure in tax reform (page 5) was masterfully researched and finely argued. Ive worked with Garry in various volunteer capacities and know him to be at his best when hes driven by passion to research, investigate, formulate and analyze an issue with the intention of increasing community-wide understanding and motivating people to action.
All possibilities exist at once and so the choice of what to believe rests solely with each of us. I could choose to believe that Garry is motivated to reduce his personal taxes and that his article has nothing to do with local sustainability issues, but I do not. I believe that Garry is attempting to educate people and motivate them to oppose the current taxation formula using the idea that affordable housing is one means of moving Whistler toward sustainability. From my perspective, his vision and actions show him to be a Maker a person that creates. For me, its not whether Garrys efforts succeed or not, but rather its his vision of how Whistler should be and his attempts to make it so, thats important.
Next is the article written by G.D. Maxwell: Physiotherapists big winners in sustainability initiative (page 66). The column, as usual, is masterfully constructed with cynicism throughout.
A while back, in one of Maxs writings, he observed that cynics are idealists that have been hurt or disappointed once too often. Thats an insightful observation and I thank him for it. Despite my enhanced understanding of cynicism, I still perceive Max to be an Unmaker a person that destroys. This is not a judgement, but an observation. I dont see right or wrong in creation or destruction, only choice.
If Max persuades all of us to give into the hurt and disappoint that he feels destroying our vision for other possibilities where will our collective consciousness take us? There are many who believe that in the last 50 years of this century, approximately 9 billion people will perish as humanity hits the wall from the accumulation of unsustainable activity.
Perhaps Maxs words are an attempt to motivate people into becoming Makers creating a vision of how Whistler should be. On the hand, his words also strike a cord of hopelessness destroying all possibilities except that of a bleak outcome. You decide.
Max was in the audience a few weeks ago when Dr. Rees, co-author of Our Ecological Footprint , stated; "Whistler can not be sustainable until the world is sustainable." The reverse is also true; the world will not be sustainable until Whistler is sustainable. The wisdom in this realization is that, we are all one, there is enough, and there is nothing that we have to do. We can create or we can destroy with no judgement attached to either.
Dr. Rees suggested that the best approach Whistler could take on sustainability is to provide a message and model to the world. I ponder the choice of messages Maxs or that of the Early Adopters of the Natural Step. I also consider how Whistler and the world might be significantly different if Max found the courage to reclaim his idealism and chose to be a Maker rather than an Unmaker. In such an event, I believe a whole new set of encouraging possibilities would unfold.
I thank both Garry and Max for their contributions to last weeks Pique and for their continuing contribution to Whistlers sense of community.
Re: the expansion of Whistler-Blackcomb to Flute
Last weeks article notifying the public of Whistler-Blackcombs expansion into Flute Basin raises concerns other than those anticipated by Doug Forseth. Whistler-Blackcomb appears only to worry about disappointing a few backcountry skiers who see this as their territory. Tom Bell of B.C. Parks is quoted as saying the land swap is a win-win situation. We are left wondering if all of the correct questions have been asked.
This expansion pushes the influence of the Whistler ski area far beyond where it is at present, essentially removing the buffer that existed between the area served by lifts and the park. The question left unanswered is whether this development will be positive for the park values involved. For "park values" you can read in our responsibilities to habitat protection for both flora and fauna and your own sense of park aesthetics.
The trading of one piece of land for another may appear to protect the total area within the park. But the direct loss of Flute, and indirect loss of Oboe and more distant areas, is a huge price to pay. Who is assuring us that the trade is a good one? Certainly the "musical bumps" is bounded very differently than is Blackcomb Glacier, and the potential impacts of Whistler-Blackcombs presence there is very different as a result.
Those of us who value park land and habitat protection are left wondering about due process. Where was the public consultation? Where is the assurance by experts that flora and fauna will not be adversely affected? Who was asked if their view of the aesthetic issues was protected? Why was this decision not even brought to the Forest and Wildlands Advisory group of the RMOW?
We strongly urge Whistler-Blackcomb and B.C. Parks to convene a public open house to discuss this proposal which will impact Garibaldi Park. Further to this we hope that any future expansion of the ski area will be given due process of open discussion. The writers below are all skiers, all supporters of Whistler-Blackcomb in general, but certainly advocates for the environment and park protection as well.
Al Whitney, Mitch Sulkers and Bob Brett
on behalf of Sea to Sky Park Watch, Whistler
Dont harsh the mellow
The proposed development into the Flute basin will taint a beautiful alpine area that should remain within the boundaries of Garibaldi Provincial Park. It sets a dangerous precedent to allow continued expansion into pristine alpine terrain, when corporate pressure is applied.
The proposed land swap seems fair on the surface, but on further consideration Whistler-Blackcomb is ceding 117 hectares of land on which development is not feasible in exchange for a peaceful alpine walking trail. Would the character of the musical bumps as a hiking trail or ski touring area be the same with two lifts on Flute, one reaching down into the Oboe Creek Basin?
This is not the same issue as the Peak Chair expansion. Developing a lift system above the existing Red Chair, T-bar and Roundhouse was a reasonable and logical expansion. Pushing into park land which is meant to be protected from such intrusions is not. The Musical Bumps area is a day hike accessible area (in summer) that provides free and enjoyable wilderness recreation to Whistler valleys visitors and residents, some of whom cannot afford or do not wish to participate in Whistlers high price tag activities.
Im sure the proposed lift system will be "environmentally sensitive," but that will not protect the area from the pressure that these lifts will bring. The effects from snowmobiles, avalanche explosives, groomers and litter from increased skier traffic should all be taken into consideration. Not to mention the snack hut or restaurant which will likely grace Flute summit in a few years time after people have become used to the lifts intrusion.
Dont let the over-expansion of the village overflow into the park. Dont harsh the mellow.
Your big winner
Lucid as the prophet, looming the knight, Sir Max slays the heathen state of our little village that man's pen cuts like a sword. Yes, G.D. clearly Maxed out last week damning the resorts orgy of consumption. But in terms of the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan its early in the game and I hope Max keeps his edge as the process moves on. Why? Because his critical eye might just help yield some results that live up to the name of the plan.
But using the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan as a reference point Max falls into the mantra of the "hidden agenda" of council; the old saw that the public input was "ignored." As scribe to the CSP request for proposals, sitting in the audience that day I felt like I had gone to the wrong meeting. The consultants were asked to report on what sustainability in a resort community would look like, what process they would promote to engage the people of Whistler in the journey and what budget they would propose that would get us to the desired destination.
Not one group even came close to addressing the Funded Proposal Call. The shame is that it could have been done, at least a valiant attempt could have been made. But seeing there wasn't a D- in the lot of them, your council had the wherewithal to call them on it. Since then more resources have been put to the strategy than a moon shot, and for good reason because this is a new frontier in planning. Should it be that the "premier resort community" would strive for The Less Consumptive Development Plan . The CSP may not be one great leap for mankind, but if there are to be big winners it will be a community that rides this language through to definition hang on.
Pemberton is one of the fastest growing communities in B.C. Its proximity to Whistler, its affordable real estate (ha ha), its great physical beauty, its community feel, early springs and late summers, the Pony whatever the combination of reasons we are growing in numbers.
Thats great, and as a resident of eight years now, I welcome these people and what they bring to this place. One thing we should all remember though, is the inherent need in all these future residents and in all the present ones to recreate.
The vast majority of people like to get some form of exercise at least a few times a week. Most of them, if theyre anything like me, want to get off the highway and onto some trails and into some green spaces.
Its healthy, its good for your soul and we feel so strongly about it, that we begin to think of it as our right. And so it is. But not at the expense of the private landowner.
Daily, private land is being trespassed upon, having unwanted trails being built on it and in some cases, being ecologically damaged. In a lot of these cases if not in most the trespassers are doing so unwittingly. Clearly what is needed is an organized, signed and maintained system of interconnected trails and green spaces on both public and private land, with and only with, the landowners co-operation.
This last statement just happens to be almost identical to the mandate of the Pemberton Valley Trails Association (PVTA), a group of community members volunteering their time and effort to bring about just this: somewhere safe and legal to recreate with our friends and family.
Now let it be known: I cannot speak on behalf of the PVTA. Im just a regular old resident complete with my own inherent need to recreate wondering why it is that some people dont see the benefit, not only to the community, but to themselves, in having this kind of network in place. People dont want the hassle. If there is a marked and obvious trail available to them, they wont climb fences and walk past NO TRESPASSING signs. If the trails are maintained and kept discreet and proper trail etiquette is followed, there is no reason the whole experience should be anything but positive.
We have a new arrival in our family here in Pemberton, a little boy about a week old. I hope that when he is a 10 year old, hell have a safe and enjoyable place to exercise his little body, to quiet his mind and enjoy this beautiful place in which we live. Im certainly willing to work towards this ideal. I hope you all feel the same way.
Private land owner
Small business owner
Re: No tax relief for Hotel Sector (Pique, May 10 and May 16)
Drew Merediths May 16 th letter to the editor comments were correct and a valuable contribution to the debate on this issue. However, I do not believe "compassion" was the reason for the moderation of the Class 6 rate for 2002, as the Class 1 2002 rate was reduced by the same amount 10 per cent.
To remind the readers of Merediths comments, the RMOW did enjoy a 1995 windfall of $750,000 arising from the reclassification of strata properties from Class 1 Residential to Class 6 Business and Other, and, as pointed out in Merediths letter, the windfall has continued annually since that date.
The "compassion" that Meredith spoke about, I believe, came from something else. Your readers may not be aware of a "second," more recent windfall. For 2002, a further six strata hotels were transferred from the Residential class to the Business and Other class (assessed value: $210 million), leading to new RMOW 2002 direct taxes of $1.1 million. In addition, our five Real Hotels assessed values increased by $53 million over 2001, leading to new RMOW 2002 direct taxes of $400,000. In addition to this RMOW 2002 tax windfall of $1.5 million, the province (read School Board 48) will enjoy its windfall share of $2 million.
The RMOW had the real opportunity to modify this new windfall the classic tax grab in setting the mil rates for 2002; the infamous Tax Ratio Strategy between the Business and Residential classes.
They chose to maintain the Tax Ratio difference at 3.21 to 1. The province also did not help in the manner they set their 2002 rates. Expanding on Drew Merediths analogy in his letter, they both kept their pedal to the metal for 2002.
At the risk of boring, or enlightening, some Pique readers with figures and percentages, the total RMOW and provincial 2002 general tax revenues will increase by approximately $6 million over the 2001 tax revenues, an unbelievable 14 per cent increase in todays economy. Of this amount, the Whistler Class 1 residential taxpayers will fork-over $1 million to the RMOW and province (a 5 per cent increase over 2001 taxes), and the Class 6 business taxpayer will fork-over $5 million (a 35 per cent increase). After the RMOW carves out its $1.93 million share (Class 1 Residential taxpayer $130,000 or a 1 per cent increase; Class 6 Business taxpayer $1.8 million; a 28 per cent increase), it will forward the remaining $4.1 million to the province. A lot of numbers to think carefully about, but the "Business and Other" taxpayers were severely hammered with new costs.
Drawing on Merediths words again, the RMOW and the province should recognize the importance of maintaining a healthy business sector in Whistler an engine firing on all cylinders. By their combined actions they unfairly demonstrated that the windfalls and continuing taxation revenue policies are better kept in their pockets than the business taxpayers pockets. Such policies detract from Whistler businesses being able to finance re-investment in their businesses and in their people. Given we all have our eyes set on Whistler 2010, is this wise?
Whistler Village Inn & Suites strata owner
I am writing to urge all of you who truly care about keeping a proper core local community in Whistler to read Garry Watsons excellent and erudite letter in last weeks Pique and then to go on and read Maxwell, also in last weeks Pique.
Forget about the WEF and the Olympics, because unless the local residents, who live and work here and wish to continue to do so, do something about the property taxes, there will be no true locals left in Whistler in five years, maybe 10, to fight for or against things like the above.
You think I am joking? I wish I was. The fact is that unlike what we are told people are cashing in and moving out.
Many people who have been here for years already own their houses, some of them very simple abodes, but as Mr. Watson points out due to escalating values of the property in their neighbourhood they are having to pay higher and higher property taxes. And unless something is done BY YOU they will continue to go through the roof. This is slowing forcing many locals to leave, as they literally cant afford to pay their taxes.
This also applies to many of the local businesses like Wild Willies and Katmandu, to name just two, who may not be able to afford to pay the increased rents due to increased business property taxes.
Many locals in this town earn low wages and work long hours or are past their working years, but all have contributed to make Whistler what it is today, volunteering and contributing to the many local events. The Loonie Races each week are a great example, among many others. If we lose these people, all these things will go with them, together with the sustainability and environmental issues, and opposition to things like the WEF.
Are you also happy to keep paying these high taxes and watch them support the rest of the corridor, where wages are higher and they already have many social structure that Whistler desperately needs? Accommodation for the ever-increasing elderly population, who have done so much for Whistler and would like to end their days here, social/welfare programs and staff to deal with many social problems, from substance abuse to poverty, are all missing in Whistler. If we had these in place maybe something could have been done to help Elwyn Rowlands and his family!
So please let us see some of the impassioned campaign and local input we saw with the WEF. The locals of Whistler, through council, must stand up and make the provincial government listen and do something and soon.
The council may also in the interim have to look at giving licences to genuine local people who live and work here to allow them to rent their houses out for 12 weeks a year. It could easily be set up with the licence fee covering any extra paper work and with strict codes of conduct, which if broken would result in the perpetrator loosing his or her licence.
Its time to act and make sure this community stays affordable and Whistler does not continue to support others who are well able to support themselves while we continue to have large gaps in our affordability and social/welfare programs.
The night the lights went out
Thank you Don Brett for the eye-opening article entitled Lighting the Way part 2. A few months ago I was losing sleep over light pollution in my neighbourhood. The culprit was the wallpack style of light on a newly constructed pump station in Green Lake Park. Our street, although gravel and potholes, was fit for a small plane landing 24 hours a day.
One simple letter to the municipality with the first part of your article attached, left me in the dark. So another thank you goes to the people at the municipal hall who turned the light off.
Sleeping in Whistler
On behalf of the Whistler Arbor Day committee I would like to say "Thank you to the community!"
Saturday May 11 th , 2002 saw volunteers representing many community groups at the Arbor Day site in the North Gravel Pit. Nearly all shrubs and trees were planted, requiring minor follow-up by Parks crews.
Thanks to AWARE, Western Forest Products, the Whistler Naturalists. Also to Cutting Edge Signs, Don MacLaurin, Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group, Whistler Angling Club, The Land Conservancy, The Fairmont Whistler Chateau, Whistler Rotarians and many other volunteers. Whistler Outdoor Experience was again generous with their facilities. Particular recognition goes to the Grocery Store, IGA Marketplace, Nesters Market and Alpine Meadows Market and Tapleys Neighbourhood Pub for their contributions to the day.
We look forward to celebrating Arbor Day in May of 2003 in the Emerald Forest when the planting of the South Gravel pit will take place.
Resort Municipality of Whistler
RE: Scott and his brother and his dad
Over the Victoria Day weekend we enjoyed a terrific time in Whistler. Sunday morning I found myself in the whirlpool of the Meadow Parks Sports Centre with, among other people, Scott and his brother and his dad. We exchanged only a few words but later in the day I found myself reflecting on the father's interaction with his two young sons. As one who has worked with behaviourally-challenged youth for decades it was refreshing and inspiring. It was nothing flashy or preachy but every word was respectful, playful and loving.
I just want to wish Scott and his brother best wishes for "the journey" they will be well equipped. I also want to congratulate their father on being a GREAT dad.
The Whistler-Blackcomb Foundation would like to sincerely thank Paul Vacirca and Declan Wolfe for taking time out of their busy schedules to organise the Whistler Valley Trail Run held on Sunday. It was a great turnout and a lot of fun. We greatly appreciate that you chose us as the beneficiary of the net proceeds. We will distribute the funds wisely. Thanks again for your support!.
Dave Brownlie, President
Louise Lundy, Executive Director
Whistler Blackcomb Foundation
The used book sale held during the long weekend was a great success! Altogether, $3,400 was raised to benefit the school libraries at Whistler Secondary and the new elementary at Spring Creek. This money will go directly towards new book purchases. As well, approximately 100 suitable books from those collected were added to the Whistler Secondary Library and 250 suitable books were set aside for Spring Creek.
Thanks to all those who donated books to the sale: there was a huge selection of wonderful high quality used books for buyers to choose from! Special thanks go to Joan Williams who donated 30 boxes of book which were delivered free of charge from Vancouver by Corridor Transportation Systems. A big thank you also goes to Nesters Market and TD Canada Trust for being collection depots. The Pique and Question newspapers helped tremendously by writing timely articles about book collection and the sale itself. Thank you so much.
The sale would not have been possible without the hardworking support of members of the Rotary Club of Whistler Millenium: Gordon McKeever, Paul Ruiterman, Margi McGraw and John Richmond. Rainbow Retreats kindly lent their van for transporting books and tables. Thanks also go to Kashi Richardson, Beverly Newell, Alison Hunter and Gary Pringle, and last, but certainly not lease, Libby McKeever. IGA deserves a big thank you also for allowing us to hold the sale in front of the store. Thanks to you all; it could not be done without you.
For those of you who missed out donating or buying books, there is another used book sale planned for the Thanksgiving Weekend.
The staff at the Whistler Childrens Centre and Spring Creek Childrens Centre say a sad good-bye. After 12 years our director, mentor, teacher and friend Marian Hardy is seeking new adventures in Kamloops.
You will be missed dearly Marian and we wish you all the best! Life at the daycare wont be the same without you.
Here is a poem to our English friend,
Our time with her must soon end.
The women who sits in the "Principals Room"
Off to Kamloops she will zoom!
She sells the house and packs her stuff,
To see if Kamloops is up to snuff!
Well miss her dearly, a lot we might add,
But soon will follow to visit her pad.
Changes she seeks,
New adventures shell meet.
Shes built the foundations around us all,
Making sure we never fall.
A Director, a teacher, a mentor, a friend,
A person we thought would be around till the end.
Shes off to greener pastures and possible sheep,
But the memories are here for us to keep.
We hope shell enjoy her ole Western town,
With many tumbleweeds rolling around.
Someone gave us some advice,
That some parts of Kamloops are very nice.
A Mom shes been to us all,
All we have to do is call.
All our ups and our downs shes seen,
To help in any way shes always keen!
(Les Lupins & Whiskey Jacks)
She is a lady so fine, with a cultured taste for wine
Twelve years she has given, but sadly now its time.
Shell pack up the husband and all those dogs
And move where she can have chicken, veggies and hogs.
But one thing is sure bout that balmy Brit, we wont just miss her a little bit.
She has been the Societys backbone,
And well miss that English tone.
Lets toast her all the best and congratulations,
But please leave us all the rules & regulations!
(HR & Admin)
She has worked so hard to open Spring Creek,
And now she will leave, oh how bleak!
What we do know is that her spirit will remain,
But for all the rest, it will never be the same.