Re: Whistler U
From time to time, I read comments attributed to Mayor Melamed that have me shaking my head in something between amusement and astonishment. Clearly, some new visionary leadership on council is required.
The latest is his apparent ranting against the development of the Alpha Creek lands for a university site. I suppose if it were a proposal for an asphalt plant, it would be better received. The fact that the mayor feels compelled to indicate that he is not a person to be "threatened" (apparently by logic) only makes his position more pathetic.
We have an appropriate site, we don't need any more single-family housing (anyone looked at house prices in Whistler lately, which are shrinking faster than the glaciers?), we have the private leadership to make it happen, and we have a proposal which can accommodate sensitive environmental concerns.
Unfortunately, we also have more airbags at city hall than a Volvo, who apparently feel everything's just going to be fine in the corridor, and question who needs higher education facilities in one of the most beautiful areas in the world anyway.
The mayor can wax all he wants about the right land and the right proposal and the right zoning all needing to be found and then amalgamated into the best darn proposal the free world has ever seen, but so far his yapping in this regard greatly outweighs his ability to actually create anything.
Hopefully there are others on council who have more "yup" than "yap".
Bruce E. Thom
Vision and value for community
I was astounded to read the Mayor's remarks in last week's Pique . For the record, I have taken no prior proposals to council. Second, I have received no formal land swap offer from council or staff. Finally, for the mayor to accuse me of threatening council and undertaking a vindictive development is preposterous.
The development currently underway on the Alpha Lands was approved by this mayor and council. I have always been and will continue to be forthright about my advocacy for a learning campus on the Alpha Lands as a means to diversify our economy and to improve the resort's economic sustainability. No fewer than three environmental studies and now the Dearden report have confirmed that the development poses no threat to the wetland, which would be protected and preserved.
Dr. Dearden is considered to be one of Canada's foremost experts on protected areas and his report is very clear in its endorsement of a university being placed on the Alpha Lands. I would be pleased to provide this report to any citizen who wishes to see it. I would also be pleased to take any individual or group for a tour of the Alpha Lands so they can view the land for themselves. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, as can be seen at www.whistleru.com, the learning campus proposal supports 67 of the recommendations in the Whistler 2020 plan. It is a clean industry that adds a new dimension that will enhance our resort. It could be a cornerstone in the new Official Community Plan. Having seen The Daily Planet leave Marketplace, Monks disappear for good, even Quinny's vanish and our real estate values plummet, I am offering an opportunity that has sustained the economies of places like Kamloops and Prince George. My sole purpose is to add vision and value to my own community. I would hope our council and community would welcome such a project.
Dr. Doug Player
Project Leader, WhistlerU
Car culture creates many problems
As an environmentalist and as a doctor, I hate electric cars (Who built the electric car, Pique Aug. 26). A green car is an oxymoron. Both ecologically and medically, the negative impact of personal motor transport goes far beyond tail-pipe emissions.
Car manufactory and road construction involve huge inputs of raw material and energy, and are themselves major contributors to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Car culture magnifies individuals' ecological footprints with the convenience it provides of regularly loading vehicles with cheap consumer goods.
Even worse, car culture has sprawled civilization unsustainably, gobbling up vast tracts of land. A person in a car travelling at 50 km/h requires 50 times more space than a pedestrian. Forty per cent of urban areas is devoted to the movement and storage of motor vehicles. If two billion Chinese and Indians follow our model, they may face starvation from loss of agricultural land.
Medically speaking, cars and trucks kill far more people worldwide than do terrorists and wars... 1.2 million/year! Another 50 million are seriously injured, annually. It could easily be that for every hour that someone spends behind the wheel, there's another hour spent or lost with pain, disability or death due to road crashes.
Perhaps even more sinister, car culture has created a generation of human beings that no longer uses legs as locomotion, surely a major element of our global obesity epidemic that will likely soon begin to reverse 100 years of progress in longevity.
Rather than doing a stupid thing in a more efficient manner, we must stop doing the stupid thing. Instead of embracing alternate-fuel vehicles, we ought to begin the process of weaning off personal motor transport, by making it progressively less convenient, more expensive and slower. The planet must once again be devoted to the prosperity of mankind rather than autokind.
Dr. Thomas DeMarco
Council must act to stop violence
How long do we have to put up with early morning street fights and people getting killed or maimed, just so that our bars can stay open for what we call after hours and garner a few extra bucks? Last week's Pique paints a synopsis of what happens, usually after the bars close. Two young men stabbed, one almost killed. Another swarmed, knocked down, kicked in the face, stomped and suffered a skull fracture and other wounds. Lucky to be alive.
Those are only the very seriously hurt. Are there many others beaten but not reported? Ask the RCMP; what is their take?
Residents of our town are seriously disturbed and want the late night bars closed down, or at least given a closing hour not later than midnight. Our council must act for our common good, not just for a few businesses in the town centre.
Any authorized peace officer, including the RCMP, should have a mandate to break up groups, a no loitering mandate and be able to give immediate cash fines to anyone not complying with their directions. Stay tuned.
A.R. Symons and family
A vision for Rainbow
On Sept. 1st, my husband, our new baby daughter of five months and I take possession of our brand new home in the new Rainbow Development. Last week's article profiling the new owners and their "commitment to the integrity of the planned community" was somewhat reassuring to us that one day we'll have the grass, trees and parks as outlined in the plans.
However, as much I want to think positively, we are mildly doubtful that this press release will mark the end of the delayed construction and the ever-changing rules at Rainbow.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining! I am writing this to express our excitement and true appreciation that we are one of the lucky people who are now proud owners of their own home, in a beautiful place, with great neighbours and truly incredible views. In our small nook of the development alone, there are five other baby girls who will become playmates to our daughter. How on earth were we able to luck into this incredible dream come true?
Tim Regan, that's how.
Tim is our builder and his enthusiasm and vision for what Rainbow can and will be was infectious, despite negative press and rumours. He objectively presented the pros and cons, led us through the complicated sales process, and eased our anxieties when the development seemed behind. He took charge of delivering our home on time under extremely difficult building conditions, while never once passing the buck or letting us doubt our decision.
This week, he handed us the keys to our dream home, which we think is the most beautiful home in the world built for $235/sq foot. The team is talented and tight. In our minds they have over-delivered.
In a town where our unrivaled locals' housing initiatives sometimes seem to be under appreciated, there are still a few around town who won't let the dream die. Without Tim we would not have dove in, and we can't thank you enough!
Mike, Kelly and Wynne Varrin
Taxpayers have done enough
Re: SUBNIMBYS a.k.a. SUBsidized Not In My Back Yard
As a 40-year resident of Whistler I feel it is high time to weigh in on the tiresome subject of the Whistler asphalt plant. This has been one of the most emotional and hysterical issues ever to hit Whistler and the debate lacks truth and common sense.
We need industrial uses and products in our own community. The sewage treatment plant, gravel extraction, concrete production and yes, asphalt are amongst these needs. There is nothing sustainable about moving all of our "dirty laundry" to other communities. What is sustainable about trucking in our needs long haul from other communities? Sort of like flying in bottled water from Italy.
Whistler got three huge legacies from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
· A safe Highway 99 with shorter travel time and more capacity.
· Whistler Olympic Park.
· Cheakamus Crossing. The Whistler 2020 Development Corporation designed and built over 300 high quality housing units, 91 per cent of which are for purchase or rent for qualified residents and just nine per cent are market housing to help pay the bills. The RMOW taxpayers supported this great idea with commensurate great risk to the tune of a $100 million loan which still has tens of millions of dollars owing. This tremendous opportunity and the financial risk taken by Whistler taxpayers has been rewarded by the whines and screams of a very small but extremely vocal self interest group. To me, it is so disappointing that such a great project has been denigrated by the few lucky souls who get great housing for $235 per square foot, which is between 25 and 50 per cent of market rates. Where is the justice in all of this madness?
Natural Product or Toxic Poison
I am not sure how gravel and asphalt have gotten such a bad name here in Whistler. Asphalt, more commonly called bitumen, is a naturally occurring material in almost all natural petroleum products and also occurs in natural deposits. Asphaltic Concrete, along with concrete, is one of the most commonly used building materials in the world. Everyone touches asphalt. I ride my bike daily on asphalt, my wife and dog walk on it and kids play hockey in the streets on it. The screams of "toxic airborne particles landing on our homes and children" is in my mind hysterical bunk. This is not plutonium being stored by the CIA from America. The rhetoric is obviously a ploy to enhance the lives and importantly the investments of people who read the disclosure statement in bold, black oversized lettering that the asphalt plant has been there for several decades and it will remain there. This self interest group now demands that RMOW taxpayers move the asphalt plant and cover any and all cost. Sweet deal if you can get it.
I strongly disagree that we taxpayers need to provide even more subsidized lifestyles to the Cheakamus Crossing residents that we have helped so much to bring into our community. We need to get our fiscal house in order. The RMOW has spent like drunken sailors for the Olympics and our Muni staff costs have doubled in just eight years. The party is over and we need to work towards economic sustainability to match our environmental record.
If the Cheakamus Crossing purchasers want to move the asphalt plant for $20 million and pay all damages then they should pay to move it, not us taxpayers. We have already played a most significant role.
In summary, I fully support the Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw (Material Extraction) No. 1931, 2009 and the Zoning Amendment Bylaw (Asphalt and Aggregate Processing) No. 1930, 2009.
If the SUBNIMBYS do not want to live in Function Junction, Whistler's historical industrial site, then they don't have to. Period!
Worth the wait
Well, after two years we finally moved in to Cheakamus Crossing. Was it easy? Yes and no, but enough about that.
We woke up the first morning with the expectation of hearing the Cheakamus River gently waking us up in a peaceful and blissful state. How wrong we were. Turns out our kitty cat had other ideas and started chirping at us at about 2:30 a.m., and needless to say we missed out on the river. Hopefully tomorrow!
Seriously though, we are ecstatic in our new home and have only the utmost thanks to offer the WDC and all their team who facilitated us getting in last Friday. While there were myriad issues, we finally received our keys and are settling in. Thank you to all who made that possible, and a special little thanks to all our friends who helped us get moved, settled and cleaned.
This letter was addressed to mayor and council. A copy was forwarded to Pique for publication.
With regard to the upcoming public hearing (Sept. 7, 2010) for Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 1930, 2009 and Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw No. 1931, 2009, I would like to request copies of all written legal opinions the municipality has received to date regarding permitted uses in IP1 zones, a copy of the agreement between the RMOW and Alpine Paving/Whistler Aggregates concerning moving the asphalt plant and expansion of the quarry and the entire contents of the municipal file(s) regarding IP1 zoning in Function and the asphalt plant and quarry operations there.
This information is absolutely critical if I am to fully educate myself and make informed comments at the public hearing. I am sure you can appreciate the urgency of this situation.
I noted in the August 26, 2010 edition of the Whistler Question newspaper, that Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed, in discussing a public hearing for the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District stated that: "part of our job is to get as much info as possible to the public... I think we need to require these things before the public hearing." While I understand that Mr. Melamed was not referring to the above-mentioned public hearing, I do feel that his sentiments regarding the process should apply in this case as well. I would trust that you could appreciate the need to provide the information requested in order to ensure the most informed comments can be made.
Sketchy highway for cyclists
It's dangerous, disintegrating and dirty! The stretch of Highway 99 between Whistler and Pemberton is extremely dangerous for road cyclists. It has not seen any major maintenance except for some seal coating and new paint for many years. If you have ridden this route lately, you will have noticed that it is almost impossible to stay on the shoulder because in lots of locations, there is no shoulder and in other places it's complete tar, which on a hot day is a death sentence for small road tires.
This doesn't even bring up the issue of gravel and glass.
This highway sees many, many people riding their bikes. Now that we are hosting a GranFondo in September, the Sea to Sky is not only seeing an exponential increase of road cyclists between Vancouver and Whistler, but also Whistler to Pemberton. These new cyclists, plus the locals using that stretch of pave for training, or other locals that try to reduce their own personal carbon emissions by riding to and from these two towns to commute, means more bikes are on the road, and under the current road conditions I fear for the safety of fellow cyclists. Please send our MLA Joan McIntyre a note that you want to see this section of highway upgraded now! E-mail: email@example.com
A view from across the water
I'm disappointed that Whistler doesn't understand the importance of maintaining functioning forest ecosystems, especially with ever increasing stresses and biological diversity under extreme threat. How you got sucked into taking the fall for our dysfunctional industrial forest practice is a mystery to me despite my cynicism toward the real commitment of the business community toward true sustainability.
I wish good luck and my support to those organizing a consumer boycott. For God's sake call off the chainsaws before they rip the heart out of your children's heritage and of all the plants and animals that call these magnificent forests home.
Qualicum Beach, B.C.
It ain't over, the Fat Cats sing
We have little doubt that the parties who will soon be cutting old growth trees in Whistler are sincere in their belief that their statistics, jargon and policy papers justify the killing of 300-year-old trees. (And the priceless ecosystems they exist in.)
We do not agree.
And we suggest that anyone attending the Open House on the issue (we'll be on the road), avoid getting sucked into the black hole of bureaucratic doublespeak (see: Cheakamus Crossing), and instead, remain focused on the core points:
• Is Whistler planning to cut old growth trees? Yes.
• How much will it get for the trees? Less than $30,000 a year.
• Who is getting the timber? Richmond Plywood.
• Does this seem like a good investment for current or future generations of
Whistler residents and visitors? (Your answer here.)
In the meantime, our video remains on YouTube under "Whistler Old Growth." But we will gleefully replace it when Whistler rediscovers its once substantial environmental 'cojones' and the mayor announces Whistler's stand against logging ANY old growth trees. (An announcement that would quite likely garner considerable media coverage... positive media coverage.)
Oly and the Fat Cats & Van Clayton Powel
No need for laws on laws
As a hunter it is entirely frustrating that the article that appeared in Pique Aug. 26th regarding the black bear that was shot with a crossbow in Pemberton last week finished with the statement "The Resort Municipality of Whistler is now considering a bylaw that would make it illegal to bow hunt within the municipality." Finishing the article with this statement would make readers believe a) that the person who did this was hunting and b) that a bow hunting bylaw would prevent this from occurring in the future.
I would like to remind Pique that this incident and the bear killed in Function Junction earlier this year were illegal acts of poaching and not lawful hunting. Two very different things. The bow hunting bylaw that has been discussed would not protect the bears against this already illegal activity. I would hope that those who committed the offences will be reprimanded to the full extent of the pre-existing laws that protect bears and other wildlife from these acts. I hope that Whistler council will use their time for better things than putting laws on laws.
Clint G. Goyette
Valley Fishing Guides Ltd.
Editor's note: Although Conservation Officers and RCMP interviewed the hunters, no charges have been laid or are expected to be laid in connection with the bear shot with a crossbow near Function Junction.