Invest in your community
To the new investors and stakeholders of this wonderful mountain town:
I thank you for your investment and support of our resort lifestyle. As you probably know, Intrawest got its start here and created a multi-billion dollar empire based on the success of this town. The success was highly attributed to the mountains and their operations, but the resort would never have attained No. 1 status if it were not for the pooled efforts of the population and their ability to collectively create a great resort experience.
Now that you have controlling interest of our ever-growing mountain town, I ask that you keep in mind that this is an industrial town much like our brother and sister towns across B.C. that are rooted in mining or logging, our industry is tourism and you are the primary corporation that we rely on for economic stability. As such you have a great responsibility to the other businesses in that you must set the example of how we choose to do business and further carve our niche on the worldwide tourism stage. When you do well, we all do well. When you struggle, the rest of us struggle too.
I used to work for the mountains, so I believe I have a frame of reference when I say that Intrawest lost their focus. Quantity usurped quality in many instances. Guests did not mind because of our stunning natural assets and the worldwide hype. But over the past five years we have seen a steady decline in the number of visitors. Some attribute that to terrorism and a rising Canadian dollar. But the reality is that the resort has declined in value. Prices continued to rise and people went elsewhere, saying that they weren't getting enough bang for their buck.
So I ask you, as new investors, to re-invest in quality. Doing that will do more for your long-term investment than shuttling the masses in and out. Don't be afraid to pay your employees what they deserve so that they stay longer than a season and in turn invest their lives here. Don't just focus on the fickle destination market but help create a sustainable year-round resort that locals and regional visitors will enjoy repeat business and lifelong customers will be a greater guarantee than trying to "brand" yourself to tourists trying to decide between here and every other destination out there. And last but not least, please keep in mind that to make your investment valuable, you need to create a product of value invest in your community and we will make this place so valuable that the resort will be at capacity year round.
Intrawest had lost focus; now is a perfect time to realign the focus. It will be good for your investment and for the collective good of the town.
Of berries, bears and biodiversity
This letter was addressed to mayor and council. A copy was forwarded to Pique.
The public recently learned of the Whistler Bear Working Group's intent to remove berry-producing shrubs in developed areas. I thought Whistler 2020's emphasis on sustainability meant we'd all agreed to protect biodiversity. This new initiative would take us in the opposite direction.
I am very concerned for at least three reasons.
1) Removing plants impacts more than bears and aesthetics. Yet the Conservation Officer is quoted as saying that "few people actually use the fruit they produce, so it only makes sense for them to remove and/or replace them with other varieties."
It's too bad the people involved don't consider impacts on other animals. Berry-producing shrubs provide shelter and food for a huge range of native birds, small mammals, and insects such as bees and butterflies. They also indirectly support predators of these animals, including insectivores like bats. When we remove natural habitat, we lose native biodiversity.
2) I challenge the notion that native shrubs are the main culprit. From what I've seen, their concentration and berry production is generally low in developed areas. I don't doubt bears walking their usual travel corridors opportunistically forage on saskatoons and other native berries, but I doubt they go far out of their way for such slim pickings.
3) There is no mention of an integrated habitat management program for Whistler that addresses bears and biodiversity. For example, with which plants does the Bear Working Group plan to replace the berry shrubs?
Perhaps this last point is where we can start generating solutions that: (a) help reduce the potential for bear conflicts, and (b) still achieve our other sustainability goals.
The Built Environment document in Whistler 2020 encourages landscaping with native plants and curtailing our encroachment on nature. We can work towards both objectives through Naturescaping (www.hctf.ca/naturescape) which uses native species planted in arrangements that promote wildlife diversity. Yes, we have to reduce bear conflicts, but we don't have to decimate habitats for other creatures in the process.
I reluctantly agree we need to avoid concentrations of obvious bear attractants in the highest-traffic areas, especially horticultural favourites like rowan trees and non-native roses and dogwoods. If carefully done, however, we can still provide habitat for native species by using a multi-objective approach based on naturescaping.
Lots of good work has gone towards reducing bear conflicts and mortality to date, but this most recent initiative takes things too far towards achieving its single-minded goal.
Taken to its logical end, we'll be living in a sterile, suburban expanse of roads, sidewalks, and grass monocultures. Our experience of nature will be mostly reduced to sightings of robins and dandelions (though I bet we'll still have bear conflicts).
Let's instead find ways to protect bears and biodiversity. Let's redouble our efforts to manage people and their garbage, while providing alternate habitats and appropriate travel corridors for the bears.
Whistler Biodiversity Project
It was funny but it's got to stop .
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of a practical joke. And yes, I giggled when I drove by Creekside through a pool of bubbles slowly making their way across the highway I even caught myself smiling a bit when on a separate occasion I saw something floating in the air above the traffic lights and then realized it was the bubbles from the waterfall being carried away by a gust of wind. I thought to myself that perhaps a second prankster probably didnt know that this joke was done before and thought it was funny.
Well now its happening on a regular occasion and it is not funny anymore. Aside from the environmental damage it might have done to the landscaping or damage to the pump or filter system, I am sure eventually someone is going to grow tired of paying to clean the bubbles up and just turn off the waterfall permanently. What a shame as it really is a nice addition to our Creekside area.
So my message is clear It is not funny anymore. Please make it stop.