The people’s Games?
I have spent several hours thinking about how to word this letter in a pro-active manner rather then sounding completely negative. Time and time again I read in the Pique about how the people of Whistler make Whistler what it is today, and after living here almost 11 years I agree. I have some of the most amazing friends that I would never of had the chance to meet if I never moved to this town.
As the Olympic presence approaches us, lack of housing for "the people that make this place" becomes a harsh reality. I know of several people, and a family that have lived in their residence for quite some time, that have been given there notice for the Olympic time frame. Do not get me wrong I realize the profit that can be made in that period could pay a huge chunk of someone’s mortgage.
Has the municapilty planned for this? I forsee a tent city in Lot 1/9 full of all the hard working people that bust there humps day in and day out to live in this wonderful place I am so fortunate to call home. I find it unfair that the people that do not own property, that have paid there monthly rent year after year, and the average Joe are going to get completely screwed over, as this Olympic machine moves closer and closer to its arrival date.
Buy a warm sleeping bag and a good tent people, you’re going to need it!
Can we afford it?
Re: Lot 1/9 fundraising to hit the ground running
After carefully considering all the factors around the RMOW actively fundraising $18.2 million for the iconic structure that is planned to be a part of the celebration plaza, many reservations come to mind. First of all, for $20 million we could not build a sledge hockey arena and to get the extra 15 or so million to make that project viable was not in the cards. However now we have found the energy to go out and raise over $18 million for a structure that has no real purpose except for being “iconic” and the $14 million in the budget is not enough.
Now I recognize the importance of a structure that is pleasing and appealing to the viewer on TV and no doubt the structure that is planned is impressive and will be memorable to TV viewers across the world and even us. But can we afford it? Can we afford the time and energy it will take to raise the money? At all the community meetings I have been to, it has always been emphasized that what makes Whistler unique is that as a resort, it is a community that addresses the needs of its citizens first. People I meet say they like coming here because it is a community. People I meet when asked why they choose Whistler, especially in the summer, say for the mountains, the nature and the trees. They say it is world famous for its beauty and nature. Wow that is “iconic” in my books.
I am not against the animation of the resort with outdoor art, flower baskets, festivals, etc., but somehow so much money into one structure just does not sit well. Let’s animate the community with our youth and let’s support all our children and youth getting more involved in the 2010 festivities than any other Olympics. Why not make that the focus of the media with nature’s backdrop?
As an advocate for youth I would welcome the energy of council to help raise the funds for a much asked for and needed track and field surface, for a lighted all-weather playing pitch, and for a youth centre with amenities like basketball courts, just to name a few, all of which would cost much less than the $18 million proposed. I am sure other needed projects can be listed by others that would coordinate with my ideas.
In summary, I support the overall
direction of the development of Lot 1/9 but question the need for an $18
million structure. But if built I hope the community will be able to choose a
better name for the plaza than proposed by Councillor Lorriman. The name should
also be “iconic” and represent Whistler.
Whistler’s shrinking public space
A copy of the letter sent to: Mr. Roger Weetman, Manager of
Program Services, RMOW and Ms. Lauren Stara, Whistler Public Library. A copy
was forwarded to Pique for publication.
It’s difficult for community groups operating on a lean budget to find an affordable meeting place in Whistler. Activities that build upon our community’s social fabric are becoming increasingly threatened because of this. In September, the RMOW not only raised admission fees to Meadow Park, it also hiked user fees by 10 per cent for renting its public facilities. Unlike most communities in B.C, the bulk of Whistler’s public space is owned and operated by the RMOW and run for profit.
Our community group is forced to meet in members’ undersized homes like a clandestine operation. Public buildings like schools, sports centres and libraries should be open to all residents at a nominal cost. To my knowledge, AWARE is the only community group that receives free meeting space, courtesy of the Westin Resort and Spa.
Whistler appears to be moving away from shared common spaces and towards increased commercial influence. Even at a non-profit rate, Millennium Place, which was built to serve the community, is out of most groups’ budgets.
Whenever public space is rented, the RMOW also applies add-on fees for each additional item, like a coffeemaker, side table, projector, etc., thereby increasing the overall fee.
In January 2008, Whistler’s new 14,500 sq. ft. public library will open its doors. Hopefully when the library board and RMOW staff meet to discuss the library’s use, they won’t have just dollar signs in mind. Perhaps the RMOW will do things differently this time by providing meeting space for our community groups at a nominal cost or for free.
Since the library was funded mainly through taxpayers’ funds, couldn’t one of the library’s multi-purpose rooms be set aside to house community groups on a first-come, first-serve basis, similar to the Vancouver Public Library, which allows non-profit groups to rent rooms in its branch locations at no cost?
The RMOW should be focused on enhancing the community use of public facilities, not on increasing its revenues through higher user fees. Everyone benefits from inclusive and affordable meeting spaces and not everything in this town should have a price ticket. Pending all else, perhaps the RMOW could offer tax breaks to hotels or businesses that wish to host a community group through an innovative community/private sector partnership.
We need more spaces like the Locals’ Living Room (Pemberton) and Gelato Carina (Squamish). Buildings are more than profit centres — they are gathering places that promote citizen engagement and community vibrancy. Closing the doors and raising user fees will not help build the communities that we value.
Perhaps Whistler Watch will start holding their meetings in the heated, underground parking in Franz's Trail. Bring your own chair and meetings will be kept to three hours.
Many to thank
A heartfelt “thank you” to all the extremely hardworking
firefighters, male and female, who attended to the fire of our house and five
others on Friday, Oct. 26th. To a one, you were nothing short of amazing and
courageous. It was exhausting work. As a result of your ability to contain the
fire in our house — the last to burn — to the attic, our cats emerged, somewhat
terrified but physically unscathed, from the wreckage the next day. We are so
Special thanks also to all those who helped so much in our first 24 hours of need: Heather Metzmer (caretaker), Wendy Ramsey and her WAG kitty carriers, Sheila Moses, Wendy Aitken and Sandy of Whistler Emergency Social Services, Karen Peddie and other staff members of RBC, Sheila Sherkat of RCMP Victim Services, the RCMP, the wonderful male tall, dark and handsome paramedic who used his downtime to search the premises for our cats, Asst. Fire Chief Sheila Kirkwood who kept me somewhat sane while fearing the worst, Kuldip of Walsh Restoration, Cindy Marsden of Dagleish Insurance, John Raynor of Belfour Restoration, the IGA and Executive Inn. Thank you also to Pan Pacific Whistler Village Center and our new housing angel, Donna W.
We are so indebted to you to have "Itsy Bitsy Polka Dot" and "Ginger Rogers" alive and well.
From our hearts, Melanie, Rod, Tessa and Conor Clarance
Positive asset threatened by few
We would like to take this opportunity to inform the community about what has been happening with the Whistler Skateboard Association and the Creekside Underground Skatepark, which is in immediate danger of being lost for good.
In April 2004, W/B was kind enough to give us a space, where the bowl is now, to have as our own on the condition that we treat that space, and the rest of the underground structure, with respect. For the most part this has happened, but due to the ridiculously foolish activities of a very small group of people, we are now in danger of not having this incredible resource to use anymore. From breaking windows to urinating directly under a sign asking you not to do that, we are continually baffled at the short-sightedness of these people who have now put the whole project in jeopardy and possibly ruined it for everyone.
That said, I think it is very important to remind those involved, and the community as a whole, just how much of a positive asset the Creekside Underground Skatepark has been. While it is always easy to focus on the negatives, it is important to remember all the positives associated with the project. On any given day, especially this time of year, there can be anywhere from 75 to 150 skaters who pass through the door, for five minutes to five hours of skating.
Why is this? One simple, and startling fact: The Creekside Underground Skatepark is the only free, all-ages, alcohol-free, all-day activity in town. Think about that for a second. In a town with all the glitz and glamour of Whistler, there is absolutely nothing to do for someone looking for something to do off the mountain, besides go to the bars and have a drink.
Time and time again, people have stated that the underground skatepark was the best thing to happen to Creekside, and to Whistler, in years. To lose that would be a travesty.
With that thought in mind, we think it is extremely important that the Creekside Underground Skatepark is allowed to continue operating. We agree some changes must be made but also stress that many of the problems frustrating those involved would be occurring without the presence of the skatepark. It is our hope that if we all work together to find a solution the project can continue to be a success for years to come.
The benefits of the skatepark
Whistler has always had a large outdoor skatepark. while the design is a bit out of date now and badly in need of a redesign it is still a really fun place for Whistler skaters young to old to hang out, have fun and get some exercise when it is dry and sunny. However as we all know those conditions are rarely seen around here, especially around this time of year when Whistler workers are expected to hang around to get ready for winter and secure themselves a place to live. Amazingly, two and a half years ago a space at the bottom of the Creekside underground car park was donated by Whistler-Blackcomb to skaters. This is a huge donation to the community, when the weather is bad, it gives the youth and young and old workers in this town a positive outlet and keeps them away from involvement with drinking and drugs.
It was just the beginning with this invaluable donation from Whistler-Blackcomb, since then local skaters, parents and shops have put in countless hours and effort to get this area working and maintained. The results from the effort are pretty outstanding and everyone who uses this space agrees it is all well built and gives the possibility of limitless fun.
The results are all positive. I have seen many friendships forged in the park; it gives many people a chance to feel free and express themselves and stay active at the same time. Of course, like any area of humanity there will be people who don’t appreciate what they have and either feel power through abusing what they are given or don’t even notice they are destroying what they love. In an everyday situation this can result in many small nuisances, such as people chucking fast food debris out of their moving car, pet owners letting their dogs defecate near children’s play areas or children drawing on walls to express themselves, unintentionally causing damage. Creekside skatepark is a very heavily used area, and the results are all these things are happening often. If any of the other community areas like tennis courts or parks round town were used with as much intensity they too would need more upkeep.
So that is the situation now, the skaters have an amazing facility, have taken it for granted and let standards slip. Whistler-Blackcomb want to shut the facility down due to maintenance costs. I urge both sides to look at the situation with care.
Since the skaters have found out about the possible closure, standards have changed completely, I have seen children and grown men picking up brooms and taking care of the park they love. If skaters are reading this, please, everyone take care of their park together so the epic sessions can keep going.
To Whistler-Blackcomb and the community, please have understanding and compassion for the people who use this facility. There is a constant drive to get more good workers into this town, it is a very expensive place to live but obviously there are the many amazing parts of Whistler which keep everyone here. As well as the mountains there is the community, which is like no other, and the opportunities which prosper from that, such as the Brave Art projects, the Zero Ceiling projects, LUNA and many others. It is important to have this strong community to keep Whistler alive and to keep people here. The nighttime half pipe was a resounding local success but Whistler took that away due to their expenses. The skatepark is basically free to run, almost no upkeep costs as long as we the skaters take care of it.
Please, can everyone reconsider the situation? For Whistler-Blackcomb, the sake of your own workers’ satisfaction with Whistler life and company policy must also be important. We thank you so much for your efforts so far but please do not give up now.
For everyone else who uses this facility and lives in Whistler, consider helping to keep something very positive for our community.