Stay the course in Canada
I read your column about reopening and you raise some good points (Pique, "How do we put out the welcome mat?," May 14).
The messaging is key.
Here in France, we are in "deconfinement," which means many shops are open and we no longer need an official "attestation" to move, but we are limited to 100 kilometres, and we may not leave the département (administrative region).
Down there on the street, people act as if [COVID-19] is mostly over—physical distancing was respected by 50 per cent of the people in the supermarket yesterday.
I watch people high-five and walk with friends without distance or masks.
My daughter is back in school. Her bubble went from three to over 60.
I think France, which has overtaken Spain for total deaths, will likely overtake Italy.
Why? Two things: Messaging has been weak and French people never listen to anything—a double-edged sword.
I take more care now that people are moving about than before when I was [living] alone on a hillside.
I like the idea of a COVID-19 force that patrols Whistler and makes kind suggestions to the people you need to visit. This could be an employment opportunity for local students and people out of work in the local economy.
Tim Morch // France
(Editor's note: Tim is one of Pique's regular travel writers and is riding out the pandemic in France.)
Tomorrow (Friday, May 29) marks 10 years since I first moved to Whistler. That's 120 months! It's been a magnificent decade.
I first stepped into town during the post-Olympic lull of damp and cold shoulder season; half the businesses in town were closed and it snowed on Canada Day ... but like many who chose to build a life here, I trusted the magic of Whistler, and stayed.
Everyone I met here was so incredibly kind. It blew my mind that people went over and above expectations every time, in every way. I felt welcomed here with a barrage of kindness and positivity and enthusiasm for living.
Now, 10 years later, I've put down roots, have a little family at home, and a huge family in the people of this town. My outlook on life has been shaped and changed for the better by the intentionality of the people here. Thank you! To show my gratitude towards this beautiful town and the amazing community who make it what it is, I'm committing to making 120 random acts of kindness towards people, businesses and services over the next month, one for every fabulous month I've called Whistler home.
I'm inviting anyone reading this to join in: Help keep the positive attitude of Whistler, don't spread COVID-19—instead spread love and kindness in a thousand small and practical ways, by supporting local businesses, being kind to each other, and going above and beyond in any way you can.
Thanks Whistler; here's hoping for another wonderful 10 years.
Nina Moore // Whistler
I wanted to pass along a huge thank you to Ken Melamed and Natalie (she didn't want to give her last name) for cleaning up the enormous pile of garbage left in the Wedge parking lot.
This pile was not limited to a destroyed camper. [There were also] bed frames, mattresses and a lot more: gross!
These two community-minded individuals took it upon themselves to clean this mess up when no one else would do it. You both rock!
Lesley Clements // Whistler
A new blueprint for Whistler?
Thanks to Vince Shuley for initiating a conversation that is on the tip of everyone's tongues in his column "Taking advantage of a hard reset" (Pique, May 14). I hope it ignites a cultural course correction that I feel is necessary for the town and its residents to survive and thrive.
Shuley and I share much in common, but how we ended up in Whistler is where our stories diverge. Shuley came here as a "wide-eyed traveller in [his] 20s," a story probably similar to the majority of those who now call this place home. For me, I can't remember the state of my eyes, just the big animal cutouts at Ski Scamps towering over me that left an impression I can recall with vivid clarity over 30 years later. I also remember my parents dropping my friends and I off at the Rainbow Theatre and Mountain World without any tracking device in our pocket. A few years later, we had graduated to the skate park where I chalked up life's first ollie, beer, and kiss.
I crossed over from "regional visitor" to "resident" while on summer break from university, camping out in Lot 4 with a small community of other dirtbags well before #vanlife was trending. We never faced any heat for the entire five months there. Eventually, I found my way within four walls, and although I still am yet to have my name on a property title, I have now called Whistler home for longer than any other community over my lifetime.
Although having been "over it" more times than I can recall, Whistler is still an incredible place with untapped potential that keeps me from moving on. The vast room for improvement is what excites me about the future. Now that the industry has disappeared and we are forced to innovate or die, we as a community will have to rewrite some of the unwritten rules that hang over this town.
I have a few suggestions for those willing to listen, and it is my sincere hope for us all to use our collective energy into bringing about a sea change in attitudes toward the resident-visitor relationship.
In my mind, it means winning back the loyalty of others like me, those who aren't too far away and whose childhood memories are full of touchstone moments that took place in the Whistler Valley. Once regarded as not contributing enough to the tourism "machine" (as our former mayor metaphorized), the "brown baggers" are the ones who will re-breathe life into the local economy.
No longer can we create services where both customers and the staff carrying out the service feel ripped off, but put up with the prices and wages because, well, it's Whistler. Eventually, those types of people move on to the next line of their bucket list.
We need repeat customers and staff, first and foremost. To put it more succinctly—exploitative prices and wages need to go. Without consistent repeat business and less reliance on seasonal employees, it will be nearly impossible for tourism to thrive.
Furthermore, Whistler needs to get out of the mindset that anything worth seeing while on vacation begins at the Callaghan and ends at the heliport. Such a mindset creates artificial barriers to growth. The region has exploded in popularity and the communities of Squamish and Pemberton have their own unique complementary charm. We must see the whole corridor as tourism allies and not competitors. Working with other communities does not mean fighting over a finite piece of pie; it's everyone contributing their own ingredients to make the pie both larger and tastier.
Creativity and diversity in what we offer guests can improve with production of these offerings being a bit closer to home. The first example of this would be in allowing food trucks, carts, etc. to thrive in town. A lower overhead allows entrepreneurs to carry more risk, and as a result the culinary creativity has space to innovate. Who knows, maybe Whistler will have the next Belgian waffles or Philly cheesesteak. I could see a cannabis-infused, plant-based energy bar becoming the Nanaimo bar of a fit and "woke" generation.
It might anger some restaurant owners, but how many restaurants are locally owned? And how many of those have already amassed an impressive fortune? Odds are their profits would continue; the trade-off of a slightly smaller fortune being a more diverse, accessible, and affordable food culture that could fast develop a worldwide reputation, and again a bigger pie for all to share.
I hope that people take this time to remember how Whistler was truly built. Venture capital and government bailout might have erected some buildings, but the town's soul came from sweat, passion, a love for the outdoors, and a generous amount of psychedelics.
We now have a chance to go back to the ideals that were here before the green-eyed monster cast its shadow across the valley. I'm hopeful. I ask and encourage all genuine stakeholders of this valley to join together in redrafting the blueprint for our collective future. If so, I'll tell my friends and family down the road that Whistler has gone back to what they remember.
Steve Andrews // Whistler
A community of helpers
I would like to put out a thank you to a few special people who gave to the Whistler Food Bank.
First to Whistler Wood Fired Pizza, which donates one slice of pizza from all of their sales. They have been visiting local communities and selling their pizzas and then coming by and dropping off full pizzas for food bank clients. [On] May 22, they set up in the parking lot and baked fresh pizzas for our clients. One client said, "I have seen that food truck and always wanted to try one of their pizzas." He was so grateful and walked away with a smile on his face.On Wednesday, I had a young guy come by and ask what we needed as he was going to the grocery store, I replied "milk." So he came back and dropped off milk for the clients. Then another guy, a bylaw officer, overheard me, and we went off and bought milk for the food bank.
It warms my heart.
People drive by the parking lot, roll down their window and have a $20 in their hand—"here you go," they say.
The other day, a man who didn't seem to have much rode his bike by and pulled the change out of his pocket to give to us. Wow.
There are so many stories like this—I just want to say thank you to all. They truly are what community and giving is about.
They are the rich ones because they give from their hearts and souls.
Christine Suter // Whistler
Saluting Bob Dufour's retirement
I am writing this letter in response to Max's most recent post about Bob Dufour (Pique, "Maxed Out," May 21).
I have to say that I am one of the longer-term residents who have not had the pleasure of [Bob Dufour's] acquaintance—although we may have met once or twice in my 27-year tenure here. I regret to say that Max and I are not acquaintances either—it's me—I do not get out much.
That aside, when I saw Bob's picture on Max's page, I thought—oh no, lost another one. As I read on I realized, to my relief, that this was not in fact the case. It seems to me that lately we have been celebrating the lives of those we have recently been lost, and when I read this article, I started to relax, and enjoy the few stories that I read about him.
Clearly, [Dufour is] a larger-than-life type, whose life deserves celebrating before "his time." The story that hit home for me was the one about the 60-year-old guy who wanted to celebrate his birthday by doing 60K of vertical on his birthday—and Bob made it happen.
This is a legendary story, but I feel that it should be a baseline approach. I think if I were in Dufour's shoes, I might have done the same thing, if it were within my power. This is grist to the Whistler story.
The other incident about the unhappy fellow who didn't know the mountain was actually made of rock, and rocks can hurt skis—and couldn't be appeased, was entertaining as well. Sometimes the passive aggressive approach is the only way to deal with a full-blown [jerk].
Anyway, thanks Max. I read your column often, and agree with almost all of what you have to say, and as I said before, I am glad that we can continue to enjoy and celebrate the lives of the interesting people of our town while they are still with us.
Jeff Heintzman // Whistler
A bruiser of a story
Very nice tribute to Bob Dufour in "Maxed Out," but I need to tell you it may have not happened (Pique, May 21).
Back in probably 1977 (happy to be corrected by a year or two), myself, Bob Dufour, and the rest of the Summer Camp crew were building the seasonal T-bar on the Glacier.
This was before Dave Murray took it over and it was still the Toni Sailer Summer Ski Camp.
A Ford engine was delivered by helicopter early June and we were pulling it up onto the bottom station frame with cables. Something went wrong and the engine swung out and pinned Bob against the concrete foundation of the bottom terminal.
All I remember is a lot of black and blue bruising over the next few days. All the best, Bob, and glad you were in such good shape that you made it through that day and many more.
Alex "Axel" DouglasNorth Vancouver