If Whistler is really serious about sustainability, it should examine the forecasted 50 per cent increase in traffic up the corridor over the next 20 years. When is it that Whistler expects to start becoming sustainable? Today? Tomorrow?
Does sustainability mean 20 minute lift lines? Maybe it does. But, enter three new chairs in the Flute area. That should spread us out a bit. Maybe; until we build another 1,000 beds to fill it all up again.
And, how will we all get here? The plan seems to be up a new, improved and expanded Highway 99. Our little contribution to the spirit of ratifying the Kyoto Accord. Maybe B.C. should get behind Alberta in supporting our federal government's commitment. We'll have to close the highway for 1 1/2 of the next four years. And, how will we all get here?
To offset this disruption, alternate modes of transportation will be necessary. It seems ludicrous to temporarily employ lower-impact transportation, only to revert back to a problem with no solution.
Down the road (for lack of a better expression), it will be easier (and cheaper) to put another car on the train or another boat on the water than it will be to put another lane on the Killer. Let's not put a band aid on a wound that requires stitches.
A rail link either above or below the Burrard Inlet is key. Imagine thousands of skiers who have never driven in snow getting on a train at YVR and not having to get off until Whistler. Imagine Squamish as a cruise ship port with connecting rail day trips to Whistler, Pemberton, Lillooet and beyond; or "Canda's Outdoor Recreation Capital" having a ski resort of its own. That should spread us out a bit.
It's not like the money isn't there. We all know how frugal all levels of government are with our tax dollars. We bail out Air Canada, why not subsidize BC Rail?
Didn't the conference centre just get voted best conference centre by some conference centre magazine? Can we recycle the old one? Aren't there other conference facilities already existing in village hotels?
When will our mythical "build-out" actually occur? When will council stop entertaining amendments to our OCP? Can Whistler sustain itself at present visitor levels with existing services? Is sustainability really achievable? Probably not. Modern competitive economic theory dictates growth. People will always want bigger, faster, better, etc.
If this is the case, let's stop deluding ourselves with all the doublespeak, conjecture and rhetoric. Let's see ourselves for what we really are unsustainable.
But, maybe it is achievable. In which case, when do we start? Today? Tomorrow?
Mountain bikers making the difference
For horseback riders, hikers and mountain bikers in the Chilcotins the words "Spruce Lake" mean a breath-taking paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.
For the past three years Tyax Air Service, in co-operation with some hard-working mountain bike riders, has organized a spring and fall trail maintenance weekend. To date, five separate work weekends have taken place, resulting in some impressive trail work and restoration. Collectively, the groups have created extensive board walks down the east side of the lake to repair some very muddy sections, erected trail signage which teaches trail etiquette, and repaired wash outs on the Gun Creek Trail.
Those individuals who use the trails should undoubtedly help to maintain them, and mountain bikers in the Sea to Sky Corridor have done just that. On June 28, 29 and 30, 22 mountain bikers donated their time to give something back to the area. At the close of the weekend an additional 50 metres of raised boardwalk had been created.
Hats off, and a giant thank you, to the volunteers from WORCA (Whistler OFF Road Cycling Association) and SORCA (Squamish ODFF Road Cycling Association) who worked so hard. An additional thank you to WORCA and SORCA for donating food and beverages for the volunteer barbecue which marked the end of a very successful work weekend.
Tyax Air Service
In a way, it is fortunate that Miller Creek is one of the first Independent Power Projects in the corridor to go ahead in that it is located close to a population centre where people can quickly assess what Green Power really means.
BC Hydro is a major player in the process. They buy the power at the substations and claim no responsibility for how it arrives there, according to Barry Wilkinson, their representative at two recent public meetings in Pemberton. At the same time, Hydro representatives acting on behalf of Epcor, the power producer, are threatening to expropriate private land from property owners along the Pemberton Valley Road if they won't allow Epcor equipment on their land.
At the original public meetings held some three years ago, is was stated that existing wooden poles would be used to carry the power to the substation and that no road would be built from South Miller Creek to the alpine meadow at North Miller Creek. The public relied on these promises in allowing the project to proceed, and both promises have been broken. Nick Andrews, who runs the company which made the promises is quoted in the July 4 issue of The Question as saying "A little bit can get lost in the translation when someone else takes on the project."
Epcor held two public meetings in Pemberton because of public outcry over the power pole issue. Epcor was asked to present some alternatives to high, closely spaced power poles along the Pemberton Meadows Road. They were specifically asked to examine the feasibility of burying the line from Arne Road to the Village Boundary (they had previously agreed to bury the line through the Village of Pemberton). David Morrow, the Epcor spokesman at the meetings, sated that IPP projects operated on a very slim profit margin which couldn't make it cover the $3.5 to $5.5 million extra cost of burying. He was asked numerous times what the profit projection was over the life of the project and his reply was always $5 million present value. This is a 40-year project and $5 million must be the present value of an awfully large amount of money.
Epcor are building a 6 metre high dam on South Miller Creek. David Morrow of Epcor said this would create a pond roughly the area of a basketball court. Mr Morrow is in charge of this project. Does he ever visit the site or care about our concerns? People who have seen the pond area say it covers at least 5 acres. The maps presented at the original public meetings indicate an area of some 1.6 hectares or 4 acres, infinitely larger than a gym area.
There are 56 applications for similar projects in the corridor. No one is examining the long term, cumulative effects on fish, animals, tourist use etc. These are supposed to be Green Power projects.
Susan Gimes, Area C SLRD representative, deserves our support as she tries to stop or at least slow down any more projects going ahead. Every letter helps. The Mount Currie Band and the Village of Pemberton are receiving money from Miller Creek. Are they concerned about how that money is earned?
A tonne of bricks to our mayor and Ted Nebbeling. How can you say most people of Whistler want the 2010 Olympic Games? This is bullshit! Not one person has asked me or my friends if we want the Games. Leave Whistler and the highways alone put the money in the health-care system, it would be smarter. The only thing you see is the money, and I can see the greed of the bureaucrats!
My husband and I moved here 35 years ago to this beautiful place. It still is a beautiful, relaxing ski resort and that is how we old-timers would like to keep it.
Most of my friends are also fed up with what you are doing this has nothing to do with sports, only money! Smarten up and leave Whistler how it is. I wish more people would speak up and I wish we had a mayor who would listen to the taxpayers.