It is with great sadness and regret that I'm writing to say I will not be able to make it to Whistler this weekend as previously planned. I have been so looking forward to hosting the Whistler Olympic Plaza opening celebration and being in beautiful Whistler at the end of the summer. I was also looking forward to seeing my friends in Sam Roberts Band and Kathleen Edwards plus all the fantastic people that I was hoping to see at the scheduled meet and greet.
There are few things that would prevent me from attending your event and performing my promised duties as host. But sometimes this world works in unfair ways, and it turns out I shall need to be in Toronto this weekend.
As you know, yesterday morning (Aug. 22) we lost the great Canadian political leader and passionate advocate, Jack Layton.
Well Jack was a dear friend of mine whom I have known for over 20 years. Starting from when I was a teen he was an inspiration and someone who supported me and gave me guidance. In much more than just political ways, Jack took me under his wing and I learned a great deal from him.
He was also a tremendous supporter of the arts (he was in our first Moxy Fruvous video, "King of Spain" in 1992!) and I will not forget jamming with him at his house into the wee hours on his 50th birthday party back in 2000. He was a very special individual that touched my life very personally.
I'm sure you understand that I will want and need to be at Jack's funeral on Saturday in Toronto along with Olivia and his family and many, many mourners and people coming together to remember him.
Once again, please forgive me for not being able to make it to Whistler at this late notice. I do hope the invitation will be open for me to come to Whistler and take part in Olympic Plaza activities in the near future.
Jian Ghomeshi, CBC " Q" host
New rules may not be the answer
Buried in the back of the council packages over the last several months have been a stream of angry letters regarding proposed changes to the Official Community Plan (OCP). The letters are from owners of Phase I (properties that can be rented out to visitors, but are not required to be put into the rental pool) units, and come from around the world.
The issues in question are proposed policies in the Visitor Accommodation section of the draft OCP that would see owners of Phase I properties forced to offer the same services as full service hotels, such as front desk service, as well as (from paragraph 5.1.1), "concierge, 24-hour room service, turn down service, and other related services."
The draft goes on to say in paragraph 5.1.2, "This policy would further direct the Municipality to consider, where deemed appropriate and feasible, unique models or approaches to service delivery that are to resolve internal operations for existing properties."
The next paragraph, 5.1.3, goes on to describe how the proposed visitor Amenity Hub (that the municipality is currently doing a $200,000 feasibility study on, and that already has $7 million slated for its construction in the hotel tax funds budget), will be able to provide all those services to property owners and managers who don't offer it themselves.
Further to that, the Municipality is also proposing a new services' standard bylaw that states, in part, "The RMOW is seeking a legislative amendment to the Resort Municipality of Whistler Act [RSBC, 1996] that would empower them to enact a new, stricter Business Regulation Bylaw, as one measure to address the issue at hand.
"The RMOW requires the ability to impose additional regulations, restrictions and prohibitions on the alternative types of accommodations. This will enable the RMOW to control overall quality and customer service levels, health and safety standards, and provide a more uniform, predictable, and seamless experience for visitors and more revenue to the RMOW, local businesses, and the province."
Although it's not said overtly, it's not hard to figure out that the plan is to force Phase I properties to offer full service hotel amenities, and then offer those services through the Amenity Hub if they're not in a position to provide it themselves. No wonder the property owners are going berserk.
Forcing Phase 1 properties to offer full service hotel service is not going to accomplish much except dilute the market for the village hotels.
If someone wants that level of service, they can simply stay at the Fairmont, Four Seasons, Hilton, or any other number of excellent village hotels.
What this will do is dry up the supply of lower cost accommodations. Soaring property taxes and Tourism Whistler fees are already making the margins on these units desperately thin.
Forcing them to offer full-service amenities will just drive them off the market completely, and with them will go our supply of budget-priced accommodation when it's most desperately needed.
New approach needed
The ruling, or what is better referred to as a poorly executed discretionary decision, by the Liquor Licencing and Control Board (LLCB) regarding the Jazz On The Mountain At Whistler application for a "stadium style" special occasion license is endemic of a much larger issue with the antiquated liquor laws of British Columbia. This is an issue that the food and beverage industry and festival and event organizers have been grappling with for decades.
Festivals from the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, Artrageous and the epic Barefoot Bistro's Masquarave to Cornucopia have been hamstrung by legislation that does not allow the community, or in this case the resort, to have a more significant input into the decisions that the LLCB makes regarding special occasion license applications.
A good portion of the calls I receive for help from food and beverage, and events businesses are related directly to the liquor licensing issue. This resort relies, no thrives, on the vibrancy of the events it is competing with organizers and venues from around the world to host.
Archaic regulations and arbitrary rulings such as the Jazz On The Mountain's decision are significantly diminishing our ability to compete on a world-wide scale to entice, produce and host the events that Whistler relies on for its economic sustainability.
As founding president of the Restaurant Association of Whistler, and the Council Representative of the Liquor License Advisory Committee I know the industry and the RMOW have worked hard to lobby for a change of the legislation that is crippling Whistler's ability to remain competitive in the festivals and events sector.
I am now asking you, as residents of the community and members of the food and beverage and FE&A industry to call, email, Tweet or whatever you have to do contact your provincial representatives and let them know this is an issue you want dealt with.
Our MLA, Joan McIntyre, has been supportive on this issue. The link to her website, How Can we Help page is:http://www.joanmcintyremla.bc.ca/EN/2075/
Give her your voice of support on this issue so that she can work for you on it.
Contact the Premier's office. Her contact info is online at http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/ministries/office-of-the-premier/
Democracy only works when people participate in it.
RMOW Councillor, Founding President, Restaurant Association of Whistler
Untold benefits for Whistle
Everyday we see the price of gold hit new highs.
Mr. Market is voting with his feet - telling us he no longer trusts governments to manage the world's economies. Cheap money has persuaded almost every country to go so far into debt that there are only two ways out - default or inflate by printing money. In such a situation the winning formula would be for Canadian Governments to get their houses in order.
Those jurisdictions, which demonstrate that they can control expenditures, will attract capital not just from within Canada but from the international community. Because such communities will be so rare in the future, they will elevate themselves above other areas not only within Canada but also throughout the Western World.
If the RMOW could get its act together and become fiscally responsible we would see untold benefits - the redevelopment of older properties, privately funded educational facilities, full employment, steady real estate prices, sparse commercial vacancies and higher real incomes throughout the community.
Our recent appointment of a new CAO leaves me wondering what we have in store for ourselves. What I see is a career civil servant without any business education or experience who is now given the central role within the RMOW.
He is likely coming to us with built in pensions from two other levels of government and whether he is accessing them now or later you can be assured he will be drawing on several fat pensions on his retirement.
I ask, "Why would he not be interested in maintaining the Status Quo?" rather than taking a radical position of making our government more efficient, downsizing our inflated municipal labour force and questioning our overly generous benefits package.
Is the public aware that the senior levels of the RMOW boosted their salaries by 25 per cent from 2007 to 2010? A time when most in the valley suffered real reductions in income. Does the new CAO know this?
Is the public aware that as capital markets decline the onus will be on us to fund the inflation protected civil servant pension funds?
Are Whistler voters aware that as returns turn negative on our Olympic Legacy Fund and the fund dries up, Whistler taxpayers will be responsible for funding the costs of maintaining our Olympic White Elephants?
It's unlikely many of us are aware of this, as it's not mentioned in the RMOW financial reports. At least there is one piece of good news - the $1 million tax break we gave the (NewYork) Hedge Fund Fortress is soon to expire -I am not sure of the date we can celebrate this, as again it's not mentioned in our financial reports.
Asphalt production is about health not zoning
The letter to the editor of Aug.18, 2011, from Mr. (Frank) Silveri, owner of Alpine Paving (AP) and Whistler Aggregates (WA) is all about zoning.
The purpose of zoning is to segregate land uses that are incompatible. Such is the case with his heavy industrial operations and the Cheakamus residential community.
The primary responsibility of the RMOW is to protect the health and welfare of the community at large, and the Cheakamus community in particular.
The fact that Mr. Silveri is operating an asphalt plant in clear contravention of zoning, and in defiance of a municipal Cease and Desist order, speaks for itself. So much for (being) the good neighbour and (an) upstanding corporate citizen.
More important is his position that he "has not heard of any ill-health effects from the production of asphalt." Wrong.
Contrary to the statement that the plant produces "occasional odours," it in fact produces high-temperature PAH's (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), toxins and hazardous gases, which are carcinogenic and co-carcinogenic, as well as other harmful pollutants. The community will not pretend the activities are not endangering and affecting their health, and the health of their children, so that a person can make (more) money from an illegal operation.
The residents also suffer the civil nuisances and loss of enjoyment of life caused every time the plant is in operation. They include the constant high-volume plant and crusher noises, ceaseless high-volume vibrations and back-up warning horns from loader operations, a tarry foul stench, as well as smoke and particulates.
Hard done by financially? Open the private company books covering the period of the past five years, one of the nastiest financial half-decades ever. One would expect that with sole-source Whistler contracts and the Olympics windfall, WA and AP profited richly during that same period.
Now the intended uses of the asphalt plant are inconsistent with the best interests of all residents, owners and visitors to Whistler. WA and AP's Olympic and pre-Olympic paving bonanza included the knowledge that hundreds of people would be living in the new community that Mr. Silveri paved.
The old and new asphalt plants are mobile. Move them. That is what the good corporate citizen would do.
Eventually the mobile plant must move to a location any way, one that is not incompatible with human habitation located in the immediate vicinity. So do it now and get the rewards.
It makes for a good bargain. Mr. Silveri would get to work with the municipality, would earn the respect of residents for obeying the law AND the intent of the law, and for doing the right thing. Cheakamus residents would get a legacy Whistler environment, not an industrial and toxic environment, in which to live and work.
PAVED & CONFUSED?
My first reaction upon reading the letter from Mr. (Frank) Silveri to the papers, to mayor and council and yes, bewilderingly, mailed to every household in Whistler, was, "Wow, this is the act of a very desperate man."
It must be feeling hotter in his seat than the temperature inside his portable asphalt plant running at full tilt for him to embark on this wildly public appeal.
His letter is full of misrepresentation, misinformation and missing information. It's weird - you'd think a guy in the middle of all this controversy would have a better grasp of the facts. Either he really is living in a dream world of fantasy zonings and RMOW permissions, or Mr. Silveri has drastically underestimated the knowledge and understanding of the majority of Whistler residents, most members of council and followers of this issue in thinking we would take his letter at face value.
Mr. Silveri, in case you weren't aware, the rezoning application was put to a vote in September 2010 and it was DENIED. The proposed rezoning application failed. Your terminology should reflect the fact that your rezoning application is history, i.e. is no longer on the table. You say that Council should stop "continually seeking ways to delay or stop the rezoning approval process" - wake up, the process IS stopped!
And it's actually an "application process" not an "approval process"; this means it's not a foregone conclusion that approval will be granted. That's why we have public input and a council vote on rezoning applications, so they can be assessed in terms of meeting the direction, practicalities and vision of the community. Several months after council denied your rezoning application council also voted to send you a Notice of Cease and Desist and then did so, requesting you to respect the relevant zoning bylaw and stop operations at your asphalt plant due to the fact that it is NOT ZONED to be there.
If Mr. Silveri really wants to demonstrate that he's a "good corporate citizen" and "contribute to the community," here's some helpful advice. First, stop operating the portable asphalt plant while there is a Cease and Desist notice in play. Honestly, show some respect for this community and the people that live here, especially the little kids who live less than 300-metres from your un-zoned polluting asphalt plant.
Second, move your plant away from residential areas and make sure you've got the proper zoning to be there (no one's trying to run you out of business).
Third, demonstrate your concern for taxpayer dollars and charge a reasonable price for asphalt. You've been cashing in on this gold mine for decades but now that we've (wised) up and stopped the whole "sole source" madness, it's time to play straight or lose the contracts (yeah, we did the math and saw a 22 per cent savings on asphalt when the RMOW put paving contracts out to tender).
Funny, you didn't have a problem with spending $178,000 in taxpayer money for the RMOW report on alternate asphalt plant sites, only for you to say "no thanks, I don't 'wanna move," or trying to get $350,000 out of the taxpayers for an upgrade in a secret agreement.
Finally, stop blaming others for your current situation. You've had it pretty good, $7 MILLION worth of muni paving contracts to your company in the last nine years, not including sub-contracted work including the famous pay-parking lots.
Mr. Silveri, if you really want to be that "good corporate citizen" you speak of, you're going to have to do something radically different. Try starting with the advice above 'cause your current approach definitely isn't working.
One last thing, please don't attack councillors Zeidler, Lamont, Milner and Forsyth. These individuals have taken the time and the effort to dig into this debacle, cut through the bureaucratic B.S. and rightfully decided what is best for Whistler and the residents of Cheakamus Crossing. They also have taken time out of their day to see your operation in full effect.
Days of our Lives
After reading ... Mr. (Frank) Silveri's letter ( Pique Aug 18, 2011), I felt like I was reading the script of (soap opera) Days of our Lives . (He) almost got me crying. But then, I remembered that every day (the) polluting asphalt plant is running, (it) put(s) the health of my co-workers, friends and family at high risk.
Even if (Mr. Silveri doesn't) believe that the emissions coming out of it are harmful (because I guess he is a tough guy and those things are not harmful to him), the nuisance that it creates is a burden for us.
On hot days I cannot open my windows and I have to drive somewhere else to go biking with my daughter. We tell our friends not to come and visit us on days the plant is running because we don't want them to be exposed to the toxins.
We live in Whistler because we are outdoor people and want to live a healthy lifestyle.
(Mr Silveri's) statement that the muni is trying to put (him) out of business is a bit much, they just want to move (the asphalt plant to) a safer place for everybody. They still awarded (Mr. Silveri) the paving contracts for this summer. The muni is not (Alpine Paving's) only customer, last year (it) paved Highway 99, this year (it was) awarded the contract to pave the road to Darcy, as well as Duffey Lake road.
Mr. Silveri has been privileged to have a monopoly here for quite some time. Maybe it is time, to give back to the community and move (the) portable plant away. Yes, maybe it used to be okay being (at that site) back then.
But times change and now there is about a thousand residents living here and it is not okay anymore.
It is not like (Mr Silveri doesn't) have alternative sites - the Twin River pit, and the muni did come up with a few alternative sites that (were) refused.
I am sure that Pemberton has probably offered (Alpine Paving) a spot as well.
Funnily enough, I drove from the Rutherford area where (Alpine Paving) have been hauling some material from for asphalt processing.
I am not a genius at math but right now to pave the road to Darcy including importing material for asphalt processing is done by driving approximately 215-kilometres. If the mobile asphalt plant was at Twin River it could do all this in around 76-kilometres.
Oh yeah, I thought that one couldn't drive the asphalt from Squamish because of a cure time of about 35 minutes it would be sitting in the truck. Unless all the trucks are going at the speed of race cars, I am quite convinced that (Cheakamus) to Darcy's road or the Duffey will be a tad more than 35 minutes.
By the way isn't the point of a mobile asphalt plant, to move it closer to where you pave? One of the reasons for refusing some sites was that there was no power, so the plant had to run on diesel and it polluted more. Really?
If (Mr. Silveri) are so concerned about pollution why subject us to it. (If Mr. Silveri is) so concerned about pollution wouldn't it make sense to try to minimize the pollution created by hauling the material? I do agree with you one (thing in the letter)- "stop wasting the taxpayers' money."
"Move it, it's MOBILE." Don't try to play the victim, we are. Sometimes it is not about what is legal or not, "It's about doing the right thing."
Ride with traffic
What your parents taught you is wrong! Ride your bike with the flow of traffic, not against it.
Notice those painted bike symbols in the bike path? They face the right way when you're on the right hand side of the road. If your always seeing upside down bikes now you know why, switch sides already.
Bike safely, please
OK...I have had it! I live 12 miles (19-kilometres) up the Pemberton Meadows Road and I have just returned from town after having had yet another hair raising, heart pounding close call with cyclists riding three abreast across the lane on a blind corner.
Needless to say the on coming truck that had to (go into) the weeds to avoid me as I tried to avoid them came out unscathed, and so did I, and so did the cyclists. Thank goodness no one was hurt!
This prompted me to look into what exactly are the rules of the road for bikes. So for all you cyclists, myself included, here is a brief lesson in the rules as they pertain to what I see on a daily basis driving the Meadows Rd.
Rights and duties of operator of cycle: (Bike Law) 183(1) In addition to the duties imposed by this section, a person operating a cycle on a highway has the same rights and duties as a driver of a vehicle; (2) A person operating a cycle ... must, subject to paragraph..., ride as near as practicable to the right side of the highway, ... must not ride abreast of another person operating a cycle on the roadway; a person must not operate a cycle,... on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway; if a person is convicted of an offence under this Act in respect of his or her riding or operating a cycle, the court may, in addition to or in place of any penalty otherwise prescribed, order the cycle seized, and on the expiry of that period the person entitled to it may again have possession of the cycle.
On any given day there are logging trucks, dump trucks, tractors pulling implements, trucks, campers and cars on this road. It is not a quiet country road.
The posted speed limit is 80 km/hr. It is not a matter of IF but WHEN there will be an accident.
There are a lot of riders who do ride on the right and are considerate of the other vehicles on the road. But as anyone who has driven up here knows there are also those riders who will not, even if riding three across, move over to let a car go by. I don't know if their spandex is too tight or their helmet is restricting blood flow to their brain, but if my car can't stop and I hit you, you will most likely lose.
This may sound to you like just another "Upper Valley" gripe session but it's not. I care.... I care about the safety of the two children that were in the back seat of my car, I care about the safety of the guy in his truck that had to hit the shoulder to avoid hitting me, and I care about the cyclists on their bikes enjoying this beautiful valley.
All I'm asking is that you do the same.
Giant Garage Sale a Big Success
The Rotary Club of Whistler Millennium held our second annual Giant Garage Sale in Creekside, along with a pancake breakfast. With over twenty tables of garage sale wares to browse through and delicious breakfast offerings for families on their way to the Whistler Arts Council's Children's Art Festival, the event was extremely successful and helped to raise funds that will be used for both community and international projects.
We would like to give a huge "thank-you" to the following organizations and individuals: Creekside Market, Whistler Blackcomb, Whistler Golf Club, Centerplate, Tourism Whistler, the Whistler Conference Centre, Whistler Arts Council, Dave Brown of Whistler Real Estate, Brian Brown of R.B. Brown Land Surveying Ltd., fellow Rotarians, garage sale participants, Pique Newsmagazine , the Question , SNAP Sea to Sky , and Mountain FM. We look forward to seeing you at next year's sale, which will once again be held on the Saturday of the Whistler Art Council's Children's Art Festival - rain or shine!
Re-Use-It celebrates B-Day
The WCSS Re-Use-It Centre would like to offer a huge thank you for everyone's support at our 12th Birthday Sale on the 13th of August.
Special thanks to Nesters, for the delicious cake, Starbucks, for the tasty coffee, and David's Tea, for the refreshing iced tea. Thanks also to our extra helpers Davin Moore (WCSS Outreach), Brian Van Straaten (WCSS Re- helped to make it a great day! Of course, the sale would not have been so successful without our awesome team down here at the WCSS Re-Use-It Centre: Aaron, Andy, Brad, Emma, Max, Michaela, Mike, Ryan, Sarah, Sierra and the wonderful and generous Sulee. Your enthusiasm and energy makes this place one of the best stores to work at in Whistler! Last but not least, thanks to YOU, our generous Whistler community, for not only coming down to support us on the day, but for keeping the steady stream of donations through our doors down here in Function Junction that enable us to keep raising funds to support over 25 programs and people in need. We would not be here without you, and we are incredibly grateful. Here's to another awesome year at WCSS Re-Use-It Centre!
Helen Taylor, manager Re-Use-it Centre
Slow Food says thanks
The organizers of Pemberton's Slow Food Cycle Sunday wish to thank Jill Brooksbank and the many volunteers who helped to make this day so smooth.
Special acknowledgment to the farmers who made time in the very busy harvest and hay season to clean up and open their farms to over 4,000 eager supporters of farmers, farms, and farmland.
Thanks for spending your money in the meadows, participants. See you August 19th, 2012.
Anna Helmer and Niki Vankerk