I suppose I should take some of the responsibility for the children in our community not having school during the Olympics, for all this conversation and the hardship that parents are feeling.
When I was a school trustee I just saw opportunity. I saw the Olympics as the passing on of the torch and passion for the culture of sport. I saw one of the opportunities of the Olympics coming to a small town, that everyone could get behind the children of this community to make the experience even more unique and special than it could ever be in a larger venue. I envisioned the need for our wonderful high school youth to be a part of the Olympics because they have so many skills and because of the pride they hold for our town.
I saw the need for younger children to be cared for, not only during school hours but from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and that the possibility of the schools not operating as normal would allow the community as a whole to come together with the school district to provide meaningful all-day care of children in the school facilities. I envisioned VANOC as a partner in this because when an organizing committee comes into a small town and takes over so much to put on the events, and asks so many of us to help, surely they would want to partner with all of us to help work on a care plan for the children of the community. Surely they would see the value in this to inspire a core group of young people of all ages in the culture of sport.
But how wrong I was. Some time ago now, at a Parent Advisory Meeting at Myrtle Philip, I remember hearing for the first time, like you, that VANOC was interested in renting all the district secondary schools for the housing of volunteers. Immediately many of you asked us - the trustees of the day - what we were getting money-wise for these rentals, and why were we letting VANOC dictate what the schools do. Well, at that time we had no contract, we had no proposal from VANOC in writing and thus we, the school board of the day, tried hard to survey and engage all in a fact finding mission as to all the possibilities that could be for 2010.
When the board decided on the closure schedule there was enough interest district-wide for a one-week elementary closure, and one aspect was clear - a common closure for the whole district was more desirable. Considering the secondary schools, because the board had no evidence that there would be a youth work force in 2010, it was decided upon the advice of secondary principals to close them during the Olympic period as well. To accommodate the expected added activities in Whistler and the greater possibility for student involvement over a longer period of time, as well as the rental of the facility, it was decided to close Whistler Secondary for the entire 17-day period of the Games. It was always the intention of the board to put any monies gained from rentals towards the care of children.
So here we are today - no school rental (though perhaps still some possibilities), money being spent on parking lots and many other things for the Olympics, but not care for our children. No organization wanted to work with the school board to provide that care.
Most organizations saw school as the solution to the care of our children. But what happens from 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., when school starts, and from 2:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. when school is out. Where will the children go? Who will take care of them? How will they get there?
We on the board of the day heard clearly how everyone will be working 24/7 during the Games. What if the elementary schools had rooms available for the enhanced care of children? What if we as a community that cares for our youth each put something towards that vision - the key partners being the RMOW, VANOC, the school district and perhaps the Whistler Chamber of Commerce?
But, alas, the larger conversation did not happen - why I don't know, because for me the children were important regardless of whether they were in or out of school. Instead, individual agendas were more important.
So I apologize to all for believing something unique could happen. For me the Olympics is about the culture of sport, striving to be the very best you can be and about supporting those who have met the very high standards of excellence that is demanded for an Olympic event. Holding tight onto the memory of those who worked hard to bring the Olympics here in 1968 and '76, and why they believed in the Olympics for Whistler and the importance of the Olympics to increase the culture of sport in Canada, I will continue to believe and dream.
Pay parking doesn't add up
I now understand why Whistler has run into financial difficulty. Mayor Ken and Council do not understand business finance. His recent statement that the doubling of the parking rates was equal to or less than the rate of inflation over the past seven years is woefully weak. Applying the Municipality's stated inflation rate to the $1/hour rate would mean that the rate for 2009 should be $1.19 per hour a far cry from $2.
His other statement that Whistler welcomes feedback on rates and conditions is hardly true. The Municipality has never welcomed or acknowledged feedback on anything. At least the Mayor has finally admitted that pay parking is all about raising revenue although I note that Sandra Smith is still singing from the old song sheet that pay parking is always part of the Transportation Advisory Group Initiative to get people out of cars and onto public transit. By the way where's the carrot that was always promised to be part of any implementation of pay parking; another broken promise. Pay parking at the Meadow Park Sports Centre can't be far away.
Gary K. McDonnell
In search of leadership
During the FCM conference, we put flags in the street, close the parking lot, put signs all over the Village, welcomed all those visitors and tried to show them a good time. And, as early as Friday, the Conference Centre was surrounded by cigarette butts and small trash.
And those people are leaders in their municipalities? Shame on you! If taxpayers in your city are paying for your trip to Whistler, at least you could show respect. Whistler is one of the cleanest municipalities that I know and you just brought your bad big city manners. Do you throw your trash on the floor when visiting your friends' house? No. Then why not put your trash in the trash cans and your cigarette butts in the container that is just at the door of the Conference Centre, and that we've provided all over the village? Be a leader and lead by example! Pollute your lungs, but keep my city clean please!
Cool reception on hot days
I am deeply offended by all the businesses that had their doors wide open and their air conditioning going full blast during the last heat wave. I will not shop in your stores while you continue this wasteful practice.
I wrote to the mayor and council months ago when these stores had their doors wide open and their heaters going full blast. I never received a reply.
As I go to the municipal hall this month to pay the highest yearly taxes to date I am angered that a huge chunk of this tax money council has seen fit to spend on green roofs, geothermal heat, composters, Enviro Fest, etc. while ignoring that the communal effort to be green is negated by the hundreds of doors left open in the village with thousands of BTUs flying out of them every single day of winter and summer.
I am offended that my efforts and the efforts of other locals to be as prudent as possible using energy is wasted. If the merchants think their rent is high look no further than what must be a huge monthly heating and cooling bill for the property owners. Our mayor is on The Climate Action Committee. Time to live up to your name of your committee and take some action.
Think we are having extreme weather now? Just wait.
I should imagine you receive quite a few of these letters. I moved to Pemberton from the U.K., because I love B.C. with its outdoor options. My boyfriend and I decided this year, after spending last summer pining after snowboarding, to invest in some downhill bikes. It put a strain on us financially for sure, but it was so worth it because I knew our fun was already paid for. Well last night some rat stole mine. It was locked up beside the Pemberton Frontier Pharmacy between 6 p.m. and 12 a.m. while I visited my boyfriend in Whistler. To say I'm gutted is an understatement. I'm trying so hard to be positive and look at it as part of life's ups and downs, but with the cash flow problems that everyone seems to be experiencing not only cannot afford to eat properly, I also can't play on my spare time. It was the one thing that sustained the pleasure in living here. It is a hard lesson to learn.
Big Sky's big heart
On behalf of the Pemberton Area Community Food Bank, I would like to express our sincere appreciation and gratitude for the generosity of Big Sky Golf and Country Club, staff and members. The generous donation of food items and monetary donations on the opening day was overwhelming. The donations will assist greatly in the month-to-month needs of the food bank.
The Pemberton Area Community Food Bank does not receive funding or grants (federal, provincial or community), we reply solely on donations and the support of the community. Along with the Christmas Hamper program, the food bank operates year round as an emergency food bank, and delivers the service on a minimal budget. The donation of food items helps this program to sustain the service all year.
All the Big Sky staff and members should be commended for their community support and commitment.
Volunteer Coordinator, Pemberton Area Food Bank
A place less liked
Fourteen years ago, my husband and I bought a place in Whistler. We skied every weekend and holidays during the winter and hiked and canoed in the summer. We would get to the ski hill by popping our skis on the ski racks of the bus and riding right to the base of the ski hill. We used the bus so often, we even got to know the drivers by name.
The bus service expanded and now we rarely see the same bus driver. More importantly, over the last few years, the ski racks have gradually disappeared and now there are none. So we have had to climb on the bus clutching skis and poles while trying to pay the fare. Then walking back, hoping to find a seat before the bus driver pulls away, sending us flying, skis and all, into the lap of another passenger. It is a miracle there are no injuries. As a result, we will now be driving to the ski hill.
On another note, the owner of IGA has decided that all customers are potential thieves. When you pay for goods with a credit card, you are obliged to show photo I.D., at which the clerk peers suspiciously. She thinks I should be grateful. I am insulted. In future I will be bringing in my groceries from Vancouver or shopping at Nesters.
The Mayor and council want to increase our taxes by 20 per cent in the next three years in order to maintain the "Whistler experience." Too late.
Once again, the generosity of the Pemberton community has shown itself.
The Pemberton Child Care Centre would like to thank Garth Phare and the staff of Frontier Pharmacy for choosing us as the recipients of their Staff Community Fund. The list of things remaining to be completed at our facility has already begun to be reduced in size - more quickly than we could have imagined!
Paul Vacirca and everyone at Pemberton Home Hardware held a fantastic Ladies Night with great food, beverages and lots of laughter and prizes given out. The sold out event's proceeds are being generously donated to the Pemberton Child Care Centre and Pemberton Meadows Daycare.
The children and families of Pemberton are truly fortunate to have your ongoing support, and thank you.
Shannon Ellis on behalf of the Board of Directors,
Pemberton Child Care Society
May fun for families
The Whistler Waldorf School celebrated the season with a fun and festive May Fair on Saturday, May 23. Hundreds of kids and their parents enjoyed singing, making crafts, dressing up, eating some fabulous food, listening to music, and of course, dancing around the May Pole.
The May Fair was made possible only by the help of our energetic and loving volunteers. Thank you to every single parent who helped out! Thanks as well to our generous sponsors: Nesters Market (for the BBQ fixings and drinks), Rona (for the bird house wood), Aphrodite's Organic Cafe and Pie Shop in Vancouver (for the pie and quiche), the Whistler Roasting Company (for the yummy lattes) and Senka (for the flowers the children made into garlands).
Thank you to Mayor Ken Melemed for coming to help us cut the ribbon, officially opening the new playground at the school which was made possible from a generous grant from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation and the RMOW.
We are also grateful for the beautiful sunshine and gentle breeze that kissed our faces as we played, and especially for our children: your smiles and laughter make it all worthwhile.
Peggy Vogler for,
The May Fair Organizers,
Whistler Waldorf School