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Letters to the Editor for the week of Dec 22nd, 2011

Community Centre alternatives needed
opinion_letters1

I am writing ... on behalf of the Whistler Roller Girls Society to express our concern about the upcoming closure of the (Pemberton) Meadows Community Centre. As the ONLY facility north of Squamish which allows us to practice the impact of this closure is of prime importance to our goal of developing the sport in the area. Without a safe alternative venue we will be forced to suspend our operations until an outdoor venue becomes available. We are both disappointed and frustrated that the SLRD has not arranged an alternative prior to this closure thus ensuring a smooth transition for all the groups that call the Meadows Community Centre home. Thus we urge the SLRD to reconsider this closure until an adequate replacement is in place.

Bill Sirota

Coach, Whistler Roller Girls Society

A Big Thank You

On the evening of December 14th I was involved in a very scary car accident and I just want to send a BIG THANK YOU to the good people that stopped to help me and the driver of the other vehicle. And even though I do not know your names, I will never forget your faces and what you did. Thank you to the paramedics, fire and police crew. I am very lucky to live in such a fine community.

Paloma Astiazaran

Whistler

Tunnel Vision Defined

It is somewhat appropriate, however infinitely more inappropriate, that GD got maxed out on the issue of sustainability and the role the Sliding Centre plays in that area only to be followed by perfect examples of success in Whistler Legacies Society's mandate.

I am referring, of course, to the recent gold medal finish in Luge in Calgary by Canada's Alex Gough. This was preceded by strong finishes the previous weekend here at the Whistler Sliding Centre by Canada's luge team in singles, doubles and the new team relay event. Sam Edney's fourth place finish was a personal best that can be directly attributed to the training and development opportunities that the Sliding Centre and Whistler Sports Legacies provides our Canadian athletes.

If you boil down the mission and goals identified on their website, the mandate of the Whistler Sports Legacies Society is to manage the venues of the 2010 Olympics in such a manner as to maintain their economic viability while providing the opportunity for Canadian athletes to develop and train for success in their chosen sport.

That is a big, over arching, not just about Whistler, or even B.C. statement. It speaks to our entire country. It relates to every individual citizen and the pride and joy they felt while we not only hosted the world and showcased the talent of our Canadian athletes.

It relates directly to the point in time when we, as a nation, finally got beyond the quiet, polite demeanor we are recognized for around the world and showed everyone, everywhere, that we are not only capable of competing with the best, but that we are more than capable of being the best. The results of the last couple of weekends speak for themselves as to whether that mandate is being met.

Chris Quinlan

Whistler

This letter has been shortened for print. For the complete letter please go to www.piquenewsmagazine.com.

Sliding track about the legacy

Really Max? It's been almost two full years since the Games, and just now you're releasing ... what sounds like hate towards the Sliding Centre (and anything "artificial" by the sounds of it)?

How and where has this sudden vendetta against the track come from? More importantly though, I'd like to ask you how many sports out there are "profitable," and is sport even supposed to be profitable? Almost every sport out there, whether at an international elite level, or whether it is the local grade schools programs, most every sport is funded in one form or another. Only the largest and most popular of sports can be considered "profitable," and that is primarily through mind-boggling levels of tacky advertising and over-priced tickets.

The idea of the Sport Legacies is to promote sport and develop our next generation of athletes, not turn a profit.

As for the sustainablity rant, well you have some points there — some of which will be tough to solve, but I am sure are being addressed.

Just remember that the fact you live here, you yourself are a part of the problem! Sorry bud, but Legacies is NOT Whistler Blackcomb.

Adam Taber

Whistler

Why Whistler Needs a Food Bank

When I meet people and tell them what I do for work, they often say with amazement, "Whistler has a food bank?"

People sometimes feel that the Food Bank is abused and that people are using it to subsidize a certain lifestyle whether that is playing on the mountains or in the clubs. Every Food Bank is going to get some people using it that might have been able to make better choices, but I am certain that the majority of the people coming to the Whistler Food Bank are very much in need. I want to share some information with the Whistler community about who is using the Food Bank and why.

The following statistics were collected for the month of November. In Whistler, work is very seasonal and thus, the reasons why clients access the food bank in November can look very different than if they access it during other times of the year.

It is very typical however, that the majority of our users are seasonal workers, as they may have difficulties finding work, are often the first to lose their jobs, or have their hours cut, and are often working in positions with lower pay.

In the month of November we had 434 people use the food bank, 26 of them were children. Of the adults 63 per cent of users were male, and 37 per cent female. Seventy-four per cent had been living in Whistler for under a year, many of them were very new to Whistler. Ten per cent were between 16 and 19 years of age, 77 per cent were 20-29 years old, 10 per cent 30-49 years old, and 3 per cent were 50 years or older.

The Food Bank is often the first social service a person has ever accessed or the first one in Whistler. Each new client receives a Survival Guide outlining services available in town and other important resources for all Whistler residents.

All the people accessing the food bank are told about the Whistler Community Services Outreach Program, which is a free service to speak confidentially about anything that is going on in their lives and where they might be able to access more long term assistance.

All clients, who are unemployed or underemployed, are referred to Training Innovations, an Employment Resource Centre located in Function. Notices are also posted about other services such as free cooking classes and garden plots for low-income earners (also run by WCSS), free English tutoring, and brochures outlining a variety of social services.

So in November why did clients say they needed the Food Bank? Forty-six per cent reported that they were unemployed and looking for work. Only two per cent reported being on some form of social assistance like Employment Insurance or a Disability Pension. Twenty per cent reported that they had just started a job, but that they were waiting for their first pay cheque, 23 per cent said that they were underemployed (they were working but were not getting enough hours to cover their costs).

In a calendar year the majority of food bank clients will only access our services between one and five times. We have very few food bank users in Whistler that require the food bank on an ongoing basis, many that do are families, have mental health or addiction issues, or other barriers to full time employment.

In November, of the food bank clients that had lived in Whistler for three months or less, 31 per cent were from Canada (majority Quebec, Ontario, and BC), 24 per cent from Eastern European Countries (mostly the Czech Republic), 16 per cent from Australia, 12 per cent from the U.K. or Ireland and 10 per cent from other Western European Countries.

We do not ask where people are from if they have lived in Whistler for more than three months, as we feel that if they are needing the Food Bank after that time, their home country does not factor into the reasons why they need it, while if they have lived here for less time, it is possible that when larger employers recruit overseas more can be done in these countries to explain to people what they need to live in Whistler.

With such a large percentage of food bank users being new to Whistler, there is more work that can be done to let people know what they need to get by in Whistler, but beyond having the information posted on several large employers' websites, finding ways to reach out to people before they arrive can be difficult.

It is easy to look at someone and judge why they might be using the food bank. The person may be dressed well, but received that clothing as a gift, have a good snowboard but then got let go from a job they were depending on and hope to be back to work, they may have saved a enough money to come here, then found themselves involved in a rental scam, or look able to work but recently injured themselves and are following doctors orders to not work.

In the years I have run the food bank there have been stories that have made me want to cry and there have been many clients who have cried themselves.

People that are trying to survive off a few food items a day before they hear of us, people who have suffered personal tragedy, had their dreams broken, and many who just need a little help to get over a rough patch. All of them are very thankful for the support they have received in Whistler.

There are many ways to give back to those in need in Whistler throughout the year, but a lot of ways you can help right now.

Many businesses in town run food drives and food bank fundraisers during the month of December; please support these if you can.

You can donate food at all major grocery stores in town. Also, we have partnered up with Crepe Montagne, BBQ Bob's, Roland's Pub, Samurai Sushi, Tandoori Grill, La Bocca, and Doc Branigan's for a restaurant fundraiser and you can donate money at their locations while enjoying a nice meal.

Please support these local restaurants and in turn support the people in Whistler who are wondering where their next meal will come from, and then find themselves using our services.

Thank you to all of those who have already given back in so many ways over the holidays and throughout the year, we couldn't do it without you.

If you are in need of assistance yourself, we are open every Monday including December 26th from 10am-12pm and are located at 6299 Lorimer Road.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season,

Sara Jennings

Whistler Community Services Society Food Bank Coordinator

Time to get go-going?

Our newly elected RMOW mayor and council seem to have started off in the right direction. Yes, let's get Whistler shaking and moving. And to help a bit with that to increase sorely needed tourist spending, I have a suggestion.

One of the highlights of our yearly ski trips to Europe was in Val Gardena in South Tirol in Italy at the restaurant at 2000-metre elevation.

They had gogo girls dancing on bar or tables every Wednesday at 3pm. Crowds were quite big. There was nothing at the end of January like a sight of some naked skin and a glass of gluehwein to warm your heart and legs for the final schuss into the valley. (see Youtube Val Gardena gogo girls.)

Something like this at the Roundhouse or maybe at the Longhorn Saloon would fit right in with the joie de vivre in Whistler.

Drago ArhWhistler

Valley connector bus works for me

The new bus schedule and bus routes have now been in place for a couple of weeks and it has been a hot topic of discussion amongst us bus riders. I've heard a lot of negative — fewer busses, new routes and schedules that apparently don't suit everyone and the fact that the new #1 Valley Connector doesn't go to the gondola exchange!

Now, all these points are totally valid and hopefully with the start of the new full winter service today (Dec 15th) many of them will be addressed as the service increases.

Unfortunately, it won't change the #1 issue, which is one that is very close to home to me. I have been taking the #1 on a daily basis as I live in Alpine and work in Creekside — unlike the vast majority of people I LOVE IT!!! I get to work and home on one bus without worrying about transferring and standing in the cold if I miss my transfer because of a late bus.

I know many people who work in either the Village or Blackcomb who don't love it quite as much as it means a longer walk to work because the #1 bus doesn't go to the gondola loop.

I think that as a community we need to realize that the bus routes weren't changed to annoy us (obviously!!!), but rather to make an improvement in our bus system. And while it is by far not perfect (and I am sure BC Transit has had much feedback about this in the last couple of weeks) we should welcome the change as the change represents a step in the right direction.

Maz Guaraldo

Whistler

No Thrills on Blueberry Hill

I was stunned this morning when I opened the new winter transit timetable (effective 15 December) to decide which bus to catch (I don't drive) only to find that the Tapley's Connector route no longer services Blueberry Hill. I phoned RMOW only to be told that the Tapley's Connector has been restricted to a return bus service to Barnfield (Crabapple).

This is of no use since Barnfield is about 2-kilometres away. I was also cheerily told that there is a new bus stop in Alta Vista with services to the Village hourly. This is also useless since I have small children and the thought of sliding down the very steep Blueberry Hill in winter with children and skis in tow is neither appealling nor safe.

A return home would also require navigation up Blueberry Hill, assuming that we all survive walking along Highway 99, which is treacherous in winter.

The Tapley's Connector route has serviced Blueberry Hill for as long as we have been here (10 years). How can a longstanding service be cancelled without any public consultation?

My point is to encourage others who are also stranded by this unilateral change to make a comment on the Transit website (http://tinyurl.com/6rrw3rm) and petition for reinstatement of the full Tapley's Connector service.

It seems RMOW listened to the locals about the day lot parking fees (lots 5 and 4 free from Dec 21). Maybe they will also listen to us on Blueberry Hill. We pay our property taxes too!

Hilary Fuller

Whistler

Reality check

Thanks to Tim Koshul for delineating all those six-figure salaries at the RMOW (Pique Dec.15). As an FYI though I would like to point out that the overwhelming majority of physicians do not earn salaries.

They are independent contractors who bill the single-payer government insurance plans. All overhead expenses and benefits have to be deducted from those gross receipts — generally in the range of about 40 per cent of the gross. Fully one-third of the 8,400 physicians in B.C. had gross receipts of less than $100,000 in fiscal year 2006 and the fee schedule has not increased since then.

Christopher Shackleton

Whistler

Brewhouse Free Parking?

"Any time we see a situation where our guests can have a little bit of value added, I think it's great for everybody," Marty Taylor, Brewhouse GM as quoted by Pique reporters (Dec.15, 2011).

Agreed, and I'm glad that Marty Taylor of the Whistler Brewhouse is so open to the idea of paying for customer parking. With the Brewhouse having charged for underground parking for as long as I can remember, I look forward to the day that they cover the costs for customers. When is it coming Marty?

Dan Wilson

Whistler




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