Upon reflection of Councillor Forsyth's statement of not having any "sacred cows" within the quest for cutbacks; I am somewhat perplexed as to the existence of the "Centre for Sustainability" and its relevance to the municipality as an essential service.
Could someone explain to me why we need to support an organization (quango?) that competes against local (some internationally-known) businesses which pay taxes here, has only managed one contract other than the RMOW's in house reviews, takes up office space, forcing other municipal staff into outside portables and is actively expanding by seeking a new employee.
I am also at a loss to figure out why our municipal staff passed over to them, the up-keep of the 2020 vision that was so successfully run by staff. I suppose an extension of that is the running of the OCP. Even if some or all of the above is true, could we not cut back in this non-essential sector?
If, by the disbanding of this group and lose their salaries and benefits; would not those savings (from the Hotel tax) help lower transit deficit from either this or next year's budget? Any help in explaining all of the above to me would be greatly appreciated.
Legacy of being Australian
As a visiting "Mum" with three adult daughters "living the Aussie Dream" (holding Canadian work visas), I was quietly set back by the news of the recent death of Eleanor Reinecke. With devastating floods back home as well, one might suggest it should be hard for Aussies to resonate with the Pique 's headline "The Glass half Full!"
But the article about Eleanor's shortened but nevertheless rich life, suggests she always considered herself a better person coming from "the Lucky Country Down Under!"
Like the large contingency of Whistler Australians, she was the beneficiary of our "Spirit of Adventure," the legacy of being raised in a land of opportunity that nurtured in her the need to LIVE THE LIFE THAT WANTED TO LIVE IN HER!
As we spend the end of January celebrating "Our National Day," let's not allow it to pass as "just another Hottest 100 count down."
Let us honour the richness of Eleanor's life translating it into keeping the cup "more than full" for others in need too!
Search (for flood) relief websites to make an international donation and ensure we can all feel comfortable saying - Happy Australia Day!
More media coverage of Sliding Centre wanted
As a non-resident homeowner in Whistler for many years, and as a full-time resident property owner for the past year, I am still glowing in the aftermath of the Winter Olympic Games. We invited the world - they came - and it was an unforgettable celebration of sports in one of the most beautiful locations on this planet. Our athletes, volunteers, Olympic organizers, and Whistler residents all deserve credit for their parts in making this once-in-a-lifetime experience a success that was greater than most of us could even dream of.
The Olympic Games legacy includes not only the great memories and new friendships, but also the physical legacies, of which the most notable for Whistler residents include the Sea-to-Sky Highway upgrade, the Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley and the $110 million Whistler Sliding Centre adjacent to our village - the fastest, and arguably the most challenging venue in the world for participants in winter sliding sports including luge, skeleton and bobsleigh.
As a member of the British Columbia Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association, I recently took part in training sessions for course officials, and having qualified, I was a course official at both the recent 2010 FIBT World Cup Bobsleigh and Skeleton races, held in November, as well as last week's InterContinental Cup Skeleton races held.
In between these events, our Whistler Sliding Centre was in almost daily use as a training location for up-and-coming Canadian athletes, and as a venue for other events including the British Columbia Cup and the British Columbia Championship Races.
Following the World Cup races in November, a group of eight of us enrolled in two-man bobsleigh pilot school, with former Olympic gold medalist Jill Bakken as our coach.
Unfortunately, I was unable to complete the course as I received a concussion and other injuries due to a crash two days prior to completion of the course. This, however, has not diminished my interest in this sport and while this may not involve participating as a bobsleigh pilot, I will continue to be engaged as a course official and supporter.
With our superb new sliding centre, and an increasing interest locally in the sliding sports of luge, skeleton, and bobsleigh, one might have expected to have seen greater coverage in our local press, especially for both the FIBT World Cup in November and the more recent FIBT InterContinental Cup this month.
Such events in Europe receive huge media attention and are attended by thousands of spectators. Regrettably this is unlikely to occur here in Whistler until there is greatly increased media coverage, especially in our local press.
Next generation "free trade-deal?"
Have you heard of CETA yet? No? Not surprising, given that our federal and provincial governments, and corporate leaders are negotiating a "free trade" deal behind closed doors.
This time, it's called the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
CETA is being negotiated as a "next-generation" free trade deal that goes beyond NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and the WTO (World Trade Organization) in shielding corporate activity from government controls.
CETA is the largest free-trade deal this country has ever undertaken and last week (Jan. 17-21), Canada's government and corporate leaders met in Brussels for the sixth round of negotiations.
A number of Canadian NGOs (non-governmental organizations) also travelled to Europe to oppose the deal, raise concerns and to encourage members of the EU (European Union) Parliament to put CETA negotiations on hold, and allow for public debates in both Canada and Europe.
What makes CETA different from other trade agreements?
For the first time ever, the provincial governments are involved, and foreign firms can bid on procurement contracts at the municipal level. EU trade negotiators have asked that drinking water be included, opening the door to large EU multinational water companies like Suez and Veolia, to stake a claim in Canada's public water systems.
Unlike NAFTA, the Canada-E.U. free trade agreement would interfere with local and municipal policies for the first time, and yet our mayors and municipal councillors are not even part of the negotiations.
Under CETA, Canadian municipalities would deal with foreign companies for the tendering of vital public services such as drinking water, roads, sanitation, healthcare and basically anything local. CETA would impact water privatization, food production, tar sands expansion and reduce public policy-setting rights.
Under CETA's provisions, pharmaceutical, pesticide and seed companies would be given powerful new tools to force farmers to buy gene-patented seeds at high prices. Forget about eating local or non-GMO (genetically modified) foods.
Even though this agreement affects our food, water and everything else in between, Canadians have been excluded from the discussions. Sadly, you won't find any mention of CETA in our corporate-controlled media and even our MLA, MPs and elected officials know very little about CETA or its impacts.
Last November, the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) passed a resolution asking the B.C. government to negotiate a permanent exemption for local governments from CETA. The UBCM's democratic plea could all be for nothing if Ottawa has the last say.
The seventh and final round of CETA talks is planned in Ottawa for April 2011. The Canadian government hopes to have the final agreement signed by Oct. 2011.
Contact your local MLA, MPs, mayor and councillors and find out if they are in favour of this deal. If so, ask them how it would affect your community and how CETA would strengthen Canada's social, economic and environmental policies.
Demand that the provinces and territories take immediate steps to remove water from the scope of the proposed CETA agreement. Get informed about the forthcoming changes. Visit http://tradejustice.ca to learn more. Spread the news, and join the fight against this trade deal.
Council of Canadians Whistler chapter
Assessment out-paces sell price
Interesting article regarding the B.C. Assessments for Whistler.
Clearly there were some statistics missed - like those of us who have had a 40 per cent increase in our assessments for modest two-bedroom townhomes; an assessment that is almost $200,000 more than these places are selling for.
Too bad I don't own a $3 million dollar property. I might get a break.
IPPs make sense
Much emphasis has been placed on conserving energy in recent years. That's because building new power plants costs money. If you can avoid incurring capital costs by reducing energy consumption it clearly makes a lot of sense.
However, populations tend to increase over time and new uses for energy are always being found. Energy conservation therefore has clear and definable limits and at some point it becomes necessary to build new power plants and add more energy to the system.
Some people have tried to make it sound like the public sector has a magic wand that it can wave about to make capital costs vanish from their bottom line. But capital costs have to be accounted for regardless of whether those costs are incurred by the public or the private sector and they have to be reflected in the cost of the energy produced.
I am fully in favour of seeing reasonable steps taken to conserve energy and reduce consumption through greater efficiency. But I am also fully supportive of the private sector taking on some, if not all, of the cost and the financial risk involved in building new power plants. The only relevant measure should be achieving the best value for taxpayers.
Yoga Jam spreads the love
It all began as one fundraiser for a charity I believe in with all my heart. Since hosting the first Yoga Jam in September a response to create a monthly event was loud and clear. Through a personal desire to support the Africa Yoga Project I merely started a chain of events that have resulted in an event that elevates spirit, cultivates community and generates abundance.
My first move in creating the Yoga Jam was to approach lululemon athletica. They as a group and company have far surpassed my expectations of the kind of support I needed and they continue to reach out in ways that humble me. Sue Elmas, the store mananger, is a remarkable person who knows how to light up a room in a powerful way. She enrolls her team, donates mats and draw prizes and reliably lends support with no need for recognition or thanks. It is because of her that the Yoga Jam is bigger and better than I had ever envisioned.
The event is held at Whistler's Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre, which is donated through the generosity of Gwen Baudisch and her team. I am so grateful to host an event in such a powerful, inspiring and welcoming environment.
Funds sent to the Africa Yoga Project go towards training yoga teachers who live in and around the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. To date there are 41 teachers who are spreading the message of unity, non-violence, and possibility to over 3500 students per week.
The Yoga Jam is proving to be so much more than a yoga class. Members of our community here and far are stepping up to donate time, products and services as draw prizes, as well as their talents.
I want to thank Christina Tottle for her passion, grace and support for this event. Also thank you to Peter Elmas, Julia McCabe, Janet Corvino, Tanya DiValentino, Kristin Campbell, Jessica Kamell, Clara Roberts-Oss, Reno Muenz, Andrew Barclay, Fruv Freedomwear, Mountain Life Magazine, lululemon, Wild Play, Scandinave Spa, Isa May Mills, Kim Slater, Ash Carter, Glenn Iles, DJ Arron Maurer, DJ Trevor Cooney Madeley Anstey, Photographers Jordan Junck, Bonny Makarewicz, Robin O'Neill and Todd Lawson. And thank you to all the participants for lighting up our community and spreading abundance all the way to Africa.
The next Yoga Jam is February 19th from 3-5pm at the SLCC featuring the amazing Lara Kozan, founder of YYoga as well as recording artist and yoga teacher, Will Blunderfield! Come and see what they have to offer through music and movement.
Smart metres needed now
I was absolutely shocked when I heard that $100 million is being lost by BC Hydro every year due to electricity theft, most of it stolen by organized crime groups to power illegal grow ops. That's $100 million every year that gets added to your hydro bill and mine. As an honest BC Hydro customer I don't like that one bit.
Why hasn't BC Hydro moved faster to bring in the kind of smart technology and smart meters that can put an end to electricity theft?
The archaic meter technology BC Hydro has on the ground hasn't changed since my grandparents were kids and it can't do anything other than crudely measure how much electricity has gone through it.
Can you imagine what it would be like if we were still using the same archaic appliances, phones, TVs and radios that were around in the 1940's and 1950's? What a joke that would be.
So why are we still using the same electricity meters from that era that can't do any of the smart things current meter technology can do like detecting electricity theft?
As far as I'm concerned, smart meters can't get installed fast enough. Zeroing in on electricity theft in this province, the reputed grow op capital of North America, should be a major priority and I can't wait to see the offenders cut off from their $100 million-a-year free teat.