It's still not too late for the BC Liberal government to take the initiative and reinstate the municipal business vote to bring back some accountability in civic elections. Unfortunately the Local Government Elections Task Force could not reach a consensus on this issue, even after the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) supplied a 12-page submission to the group.
Until 1993, small businesses in BC enjoyed the opportunity to participate in civic elections and had a voice in how decisions were made regarding the assessment of taxes by voting for candidates that proposed fiscal responsibility as their platform. Unfortunately this right was removed by the government of the day and successive elected civic slates have imposed exorbitant property taxes on small businesses, employers that are the backbone of BC's burgeoning economic recovery.
Even local civic politicians have taken up the cause and are throwing their support behind this proposal. They realize that in order for their business communities to grow and prosper, a balance must be struck between residents and business interests.
We're getting bears killed
After reading about the bears that were killed over the long weekend I finally had to take a stand and become part of the solution for our mountain friends.
Why is it that people are more interested in speaking up about the dog shit in Whistler than innocent animals with no voice that get killed because of dumb people? Don't forget that we live on their land and they were here way before Whistler became the skiing town it is now. What is it going to take for the black bears to be almost extinct? It makes me furious that people pull over on the side of the highway to get pictures and they are not held responsible for the bear's death. We need to fight for them and to have a law against stopping on the highway except for emergencies, with huge fines for those who break it. There should also be fines in Whistler for getting too close.
People that don't have their dog on a leash can get up to a $2,000 fine but someone that gets an animal killed because of their stupidity doesn't get anything.
I encourage everyone that has the same opinion about this topic to please write and voice your concerns. Take action and let's come together and make a difference. We have caused the problem with garbage, edible grass planted for the beauty of it, and now for our photo albums. Come on people, if Whistler doesn't start caring why would our worldly guests? Disappointed.
Signs of the times
A good new direction for the Municipality of Whistler would be to remove excessive signage. Be aware of how many redundant signs are going up everywhere - the village area looks and feels oppressive. Roadways are plastered with warning signs that there are more signs to come. Even the Valley Trail has extra signs reminding me that the trail is winding. Boy, am I really that stupid? When is it enough?
Taxed by taxes
After several years of "small increases" to our municipal taxes, I wish the muni could hire a decent bookkeeper.
Lets face it, whether it's labeled as other government or school taxes, muni taxes or associated fees, no matter how you choose to cut it up or explain it away, this is the bill we pay.
Since tax time in 2007 I have suffered a 12 per cent increase in '08, 6.88 per cent in '09, and another 9.22 per cent increase in 2010 for an overall increase of 30.9 per cent in the last four years to my overall tax bill.
Not that small an increase, with more scheduled to come next year.
Now that the Olympics have passed, maybe we can return to some more conservative municipal spending and staffing levels, and see a moratorium on these unsustainable rate hikes.
Blue ribbon? Not quite...
Normally I have considered Andrew Mitchell's columns as well researched and perceptive. However, in the June 3 Pique he referred to the committee that reviewed municipal finances as "a blue ribbon panel of 10 economic experts." Unfortunately, just about nothing could be further from the truth. Let's run through some of the committee members.
First we have Ken Melamed - hardly an expert on anything to do with economics, and in reality a big spender especially if the words green and sustainability come up in the same sentence and can be attached to a million here or a million there.
Next is Bob Lorriman, a past councillor who consistently voted with the mayor and was subsequently voted out by the electorate back in 2008. Soon after leaving office he received a nice, likely juicy, municipal contract and interestingly enough continued to be referred to as a councillor in municipal literature throughout 2009. Nothing like being on the payroll to mask one's judgment.
The majority of the other members of the committee also are deeply conflicted in their roles of giving what should be unbiased financial advice.
Let me elaborate, Peter Adams and Allan Neilson-Welch are both partners in consulting firms with municipal contracts. Such consultants have played a role in moving payrolls of smaller municipalities towards the remuneration of much larger jurisdictions throughout B.C.
We also have the partner in charge of BDO Dunwoody and the Branch Manager of the Royal Bank, the accountants and bankers to the RMOW - no conflict there I am sure.
Further, with the Royal Bank being one of the First Tier Olympic sponsors, the local branch manager is hardly the person who would carry the torch for the electorate seeking restraint of municipal expenditures at the behest of VANOC on such pernicious projects as removing a perfectly good and beautiful treed boulevard.
Then we have Ken Dobell from the board of VANOC, a gentleman no stranger to conflicts of interest. Mr. Dobell has been referred to in the Vancouver Press as the ultimate insider of Premier Campbell and operated from a desk in the Premier's office while being employed by an outside organization seeking funds from the government.
Apparently he was billing both sides $250 an hour at the same time! For this he was charged with failing to register as a lobbyist, the first person so charged in B.C. He pleaded guilty in March 2008 and returned $7,000 in payments. At this time B.C.'s special prosecutor Terrence Robertson said he considered whether Dobell had also violated the criminal code for "influence peddling" and "concluded the evidence supported a substantial likelihood of conviction." The prosecutor did not pursue the charges as in his words, "it would not be in the public interest to do so." Kind of weird, me thinks, until last month when we found out that the prosecutor's law firm and the prosecutor himself have been substantial contributors to the B.C. Liberal Party.
So seven of the ten members of the so-called blue ribbon committee have major conflicts of interest, and not one in my opinion is an economic expert (although most but not all have some level of financial knowledge). I want to ask one simple question: "Why don't we have committee members that actually represent the residents of our community, have a vested interest in controlling the municipality's expenditures, know better what the needs of Whistler are, and, most importantly, are not conflicted?" I would characterize what we currently have is not a Blue Ribbon Committee but a Brown Nosed One.
Fifty was Nifty
Thanks so much to all the volunteers, riders and sponsors who turned out to make the inaugural Nimby Fifty marathon mountain bike race in Pemberton a massive success. Even though it was raining before and during the race everyone was so excited to have a well-run race of this calibre finally happening in the great town of Pemberton.
The trails really did speak for themselves with all of the out-of-town riders just stunned at how amazing the Pemberton riding really is. It even stopped raining and dried up for the apres which was a big bonus.
A special shout out to all of our event sponsors without whom the race wouldn't have happened. KHS Bikes, Bike Co., Different Bikes, Ravenscrest Developments, Hammer Nutrition, B.C. Bike Race, Chromag, Pemberton Valley Wellness, Revolution Personal Training, Whistler Mountain Bike Park, Whistler Brewing, Schramm Vodka and Mount Currie Coffee. A very special thank you goes out to Lisa Ames and the entire crew of the Pemberton chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society who handled our food and beverage for their charity efforts.
Last but not least a special thank you to Nigel Protter and everyone with the Pemberton Valley Trails Association for their support of our race and the hard work in maintaining and bringing all the great Pemberton trails to life. Finally, a huge shout out to Papa Josh for putting on an amazing live jazz/funk show for the apres. What an awesome vibe - see you all again next year!
Dean Linnell, Terry Evans, Russ Wood
Nimby Fifty Race Organizers
Food for thought
On Tuesday June 1, Whistler Community Services (WCSS) hosted a Family Dinner Night to raise awareness for World Hunger Day and raise donations for the local food bank, which is still experiencing large user numbers. The event was attended by over 100 people. Community members enjoyed a feast of food and an array of games and activities at Spruce Grove Field House. A special thanks to all families who attended and provided a cash or can donation. WCSS would also like to acknowledge our sponsors, partners and volunteers who made this event possible. A special thanks to the RMOW and specifically Kevin Damaskie, Petra Gier and the amazing staff from the Youth Center, Megan, Kayley and Lena for the poster. Guests would have gone hungry if not for our amazing food sponsors. Thank You to Nesters, The Grocery Store, Whistler Cooks and The Parent Advisory Council Lunch Program. As well, thanks to Orkidz Art Studio and specifically Layna Mawson for organizing a family art activity. We would also like to acknowledge the assistance of our hard working volunteers: Emma Dal Santo, Taylor Mitchell, Sarah Colpitts, Brad and Joanne Montieth and Erin Stephens, as well as Sarah on the barbecue. The combined efforts of community partners, sponsors and volunteers allowed us to host a successful dinner and raise essential funds for our local food bank. We look forward to making this an annual community event.
Jackie Dickinson and Davin Moore
Everything aligned at yoga conference
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organizers and participants of this past weekend's Whistler Yoga Conference. I had the unique opportunity to participate in this retreat in my own backyard.
I always appreciate being part of this amazing community but feel especially proud to be a resident when we have the ability to enjoy the luxury of learning from amazing teachers from all over the world in our own town. I would specifically like to acknowledge, however, that the most empowering teachers at this conference all teach and reside in Whistler.
These amazing people have developed a variety of studios that allow community members to enjoy yoga at an economical cost and choose from a variety of locations to best suit their needs and values. I think our community can learn a lot from these teachers as they collaborate rather than compete against each other in an effort to make the people of Whistler more passionate, harmonious and healthy. We spend a great deal of time recognizing community heroes, volunteers, coaches and leaders but I think we have not fairly acknowledged the teachers that live on our community and commit every day to share their practice and knowledge. A special thanks to Tanya DiValentino and Glen Illes for their incredible leadership and passion to make this conference happen. I look forward to supporting and attending next year!
There for grads
A big thanks to Bruce Ian at Nesters for once again being there for the community. Their generosity in assisting with food for the Graduation Ceremony at Whistler Secondary is appreciated by all Grads and their families. Thanks also to Ms.Oakley and Ms. Faulkner and her Home Ec students who helped out.
Grad Class 2010