Show the world our nature
Whistler has an abundance, even an over abundance of natural scenic wonders to be enjoyed, but curiously we do not market and highlight these features and opportunities to visitors as much as do other scenic areas.
Many of the most scenic areas of the world take full advantage of their resources, while Whistler with equal, or better, scenic wonders does not show all that we have.
It is recognized that Whistler can use more winter and summer visitors. I believe there are markets we have not tapped into simply our scenic wonders that surround Whistler.
Since before Expo 86, I have been on a mission with my postcards, calendars, maps and work with Whistler's Advisory Parks Commission and the Whistler Forestry Committee to show Whistler's beauty to the world. For too long the photos and images used in marketing Whistler have been limited to a bit of the Whistler valley area of the municipality, ski slopes of Whistler and Blackcomb, Tourism Whistler member properties and mostly repeated locations in marketing efforts. My feeling is these things seem ordinary and common to many other resorts and simply do not come across as all that special or unique.
Current mountain marketing appeals to emotion with black & white photos of people with little or no scenery visible noting "Whistler. Always Real." This probably has its place but I believe we should also highlight the many marvels of nature around us.
Where is information on the marvels of nature that help make us real? Such as:
The wilderness of Cheakamus Lake from the shore and from 4,000 feet above on the Musical Bumps, one of Canada's most scenic accessible alpine trails with views of Cheakamus and Spearhead glaciers and Black Tusk;
Black Tusk meadows hard to match anywhere in the world;
Four of the most beautiful waterfalls in B.C.: Alexander Falls, Brandywine Falls, Shannon Falls and Nairn Falls;
The scenic Sea to Sky Highway along Howe Sound and Cheakamus Canyon, which should be as famous to the world by now as the Icefield Parkway in the Rockies, the Going to the Sun highway in Montana, the Trail Ridge Road in Colorado or the Big Sur highway in California;
Other scenic areas include Callaghan Lake Provincial Park, Soo River Valley, Wedgemont Lake & Glacier, The Chief and many more.
Think about it. What other places in the world have this collection of features? You certainly would not know it based on our current spate of marketing material.
Whistler Mountain now has realized the potential of showing (to many who have not been on a mountain before) how awesome the Peak Experience is, and I applaud them for that. I have spoken to many visitors who told me this was the most amazing view they have ever seen.
I also applaud the proposed Peak to Peak gondola for both winter and summer and the potential to open up the Blackcomb hiking trails again.
As well as showing the beauty missed, we need to show more aggressively the large number of activities available, such as: simple hiking and viewing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, climbing, camping, glacier tours, windsurfing, tube park, mountain biking, zip trek, tree trek, sky ride, snowmobiling, heli hiking, Hummer rides etc.
All other important travel information centres in B.C. have ample travel information for most other towns and resorts in B.C. Even though travellers for years have been asking for Whistler travel information, they usually have only Visitor's Choice and inclusion in some B.C. regional material. This is really not sufficient. We do need to go beyond our narrow focus on only two mountain slopes and the "village". The village is nice, but it is hardly all that special any more.
Let's feel proud of the beauty of our area, how fortunate we are to be surrounded by it and show it to the world. Now.
We just need employee housing
I read with incredulity that the proposed athletes village employee housing project may be shelved in favour of a temporary tent city. The reason given being that the project is not feasible without a significant market housing component. Allowing this key Olympic legacy to slip away would be a betrayal of the community.
Stop me if Im wrong, but the land was granted to the municipality for the sole purpose of affordable resident housing, and there is $26 million granted for the construction of somewhere around 300 units. For the life of me, I cant understand why a more affordable project cant be tabled to work within the existing budget, or a budget that would be in reach of bank financing based on the return from 300 rental units and the existing equity from the land and monetary grants. We dont need world class employee housing, we just need employee housing, and lots of it.
Ive been in business in Whistler in one form or another for over 20 years. The biggest problems facing the resort today are the lack of affordable rental housing for seasonal workers, and the lack of employee-restricted market housing. Ive seen viable businesses fail because the owners were working 80 hours a week, as they couldnt find reliable staff. Service staff that arent in employee housing are living in deplorable conditions for insane rents. This in itself is a disgrace to the community.
The other place where Whistler is losing out is experienced middle level professionals. To use a military term, the strength of an army rests in the quality of its sergeants, and Whistlers sergeants are the chefs, concierges, and restaurant and tour managers. Whistler has some of the best tourism managers in the world, and eventually they start getting to the point where they want to settle down, buy a house, and raise a family. Believe me, I photograph their weddings, and then see them leave town for high paying jobs in resorts all over the world.
Todays lack of employee housing traces its roots to the policy of letting developers opt out of building required employee housing with small cash in lieu payments. If we had those thousands of employee housing beds now, Whistler would be a vastly different community today. That policy predates everyone on council, but now the existing council has a chance to make back some of that lost ground.
Personally, I find the fact that were even talking about not building this badly needed employee housing depressing. What kind of community are we living in that we can write off an entire segment of our community as unnecessary and unwanted?
Dear Mayor Melamed, Bill Barratt and Council
Congratulations on your new positions. I sincerely wish you the best. I trust you will serve the community with integrity.
It sounds like everyone is eager to proceed with employee housing. Developers, real estate companies, employers, and families are all keen to invest in many proposed ventures. Many locals are anxious for the availability of some new stable affordable housing and the commercial amenities of the Rainbow Project.
As an advocate and supporter of employee housing since investing in one of the first projects in the late 80s, you'd guess that I'd also be supportive; but there's a big problem and it has to do with unfinished business regarding the Eva Lake issue. Finalizing any employee housing project without settling this issue would present a moral and perhaps legal conflict of interest, especially since some involve parties that have been implicated.
The owners have been teased with the lip service of a letter of intent for a resolution, strategically sent just before the election. Now where's the follow up? Please don't waste our energy and taxpayers money by letting this proceed to trial. The community is backing us up on this one, since I've yet to hear otherwise, either publicly or privately.
I invite you to see the industrial scale engineering and construction that was necessary to rectify a problem that occurred on municipally owned land as a result of several development oversights. Feel free to view the extensive procedure of consultations that prove the buildings were constructed on organic debris rather than structural fill. We would be glad to submit receipts totalling over $1 million to date for reimbursement. All owners have also paid a heavy price in interest, penalties, loss of property value, disruption and in some cases, are facing bankruptcy and/or foreclosure. As working class citizens, this overwhelming burden has been added to already challenging times. I know I could really use that money now. Please, at least offer us the courtesy with a reply in the near future.
The danger of slides and reporting
I read with interest your stories about the Jan. 14 avalanche in Whistler's West Bowl that seriously injured Sandy Knapton. Given the complex terrain at Whistler, and the pressure to open the mountain, it is no surprise that, despite the best efforts of the pro patrol, an area of unstable snow was missed.
What concerns me is the attempt by Intrawest to downplay this incident and mislead the public about what really happened. Case in point: Dave Reid, Whistler Mountain safety manager, is quoted in Pique Newsmagazines online story (Jan. 17) as saying "It was a Class 1 avalanche, which means it was barely there...."
But the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA), on the basis of Whistler Mountain's own report to them, stated the following in their Jan. 16 avalanche bulletin: "Avalanche Activity: Several skier triggered avalanches in the Whistler and Coquihalla areas were reported. The most serious one near Whistler was a Size 2 that caught 5 people, leaving one with a broken femur and a trip to the hospital."
According to the CAA, a Size 1 avalanche is one that runs 10 metres, involves 10 tonnes of snow, and is too small to injure a person. But a Size 2 avalanche is described as one that runs 100 metres, involves 100 tonnes of snow, and could bury, injure or kill a person. In actual fact, measurements by one witness to the avalanche found that it ran for 290 metres and involved about 600 tonnes of snow, suggesting that it was actually a dangerous, Size 2.5 avalanche.
Ironically, the avalanche happened on one of the Canadian Avalanche Association's Avalanche Awareness Days at Whistler, which are meant to promote avalanche safety. Instead of using this incident to educate the public about the dangers of avalanches, and the need to be careful even when skiing in-bounds, Intrawest instead chose to allow public relations considerations to take precedent over truthful reporting and concerns for public safety.
Robert J. Moysychyn
Avalanche Foundation hits rowing club
Our second annual Canadian Avalanche Foundation (CAF) fundraising dinner and silent auction is set to take place at the Vancouver Rowing Club on Friday, Feb. 24th. Co-hosted by Director Justin Trudeau and President Chris Stethem, the evening will feature a presentation by Laurie Skreslet, the first Canadian to summit Mount Everest, entitled "The Nature of Risk". Laurie will speak on the inseparable nature of adventure and risk. A silent auction featuring a variety of items ranging from ski vacations to artwork will take place. Tickets are $150 each and are supported by a $75 tax receipt.
The CAF's mission is to raise and administer funds in support of public avalanche safety initiatives, education and research such as the vital Public Avalanche Bulletin produced by the Canadian Avalanche Centre.
For further information go to www.avalanchefoundation.ca or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-678-1235.
Mary Jane Pedersen
Canadian Avalanche Foundation
Has Whistler learned its lesson yet?
As a homeowner it boggles my mind when I read and hear about the disregard displayed by some guests who wish to vacation in our homes or hotels and then have the nerve to trash them.
I am sure that many people are now aware of the miserable time that was had by many guests over the Martin Luther King weekend, which was caused for the most part by the onslaught of U.S. college students. If Whistler thinks that by lowering hotel rates they are attracting or going to attract more guests, they are wrong. The majority of people that are being attracted are these groups of young partygoers who have no problem cramming 10-15 people into a room that perhaps only accommodates 6-8. Why wouldn't they? For $99 Cdn per night... what a great deal. This way they have more money to spend on liquor and cause even more problems.
I am very aware of the fact that Whistler is suffering from lack of tourists and that our higher Canadian dollar and other factors are not helping, but get real people. Offering rock bottom prices is not attracting the kind of tourists we want. If anything, this is causing the resort and us homeowners additional lost revenue for the cost of cleanup and repairs and possibly added cost for policing and bylaw patrols.
Rather than pull in the wrong tourists, why dont we all work together to pull in the right tourists? We are all out to make a buck, pay our bills and enjoy our homes with our families. But if this continues in this way, we are all just hurting each other by offering such low rates.
There are many unhappy guests, who for the most part may not want to come back to Whistler, that are witnessing blatant liquor-induced rowdiness and the rudeness of skiers and boarders on our slopes. Now, lets think for a moment, who do we want to come back: the tourist who comes to Whistler and enjoys all its beauty and down-home hospitality or the tourist who just wants to party and cause problems? If we as homeowners and the resort dont smarten up, Whistler is going to lose its appeal and its quality tourists.
Whistler has many issues to deal with: sustainability, obtaining and keeping quality employees and affordable housing, to name a few, but if we lose our tourists, this will all be a mute point.
As a homeowner, I believe this is important, as I am sure many others do too. We need to continue to make Whistler a place to come for families and others alike, we need to stop offering "rock-bottom" prices, which are attracting the wrong tourists, and Whistler needs to continue working on having other areas for people to have some fun. It would be great to have some additional affordable fun. Yes, the new tube park is great but having a 5/10 pin bowling alley, a better underground arcade that has less violent games, caters to all ages and is better maintained, may be something in the right direction.
Whistler is truly a wonderful place but over the years it has gotten worse instead of better with all the rowdiness and blatant disregard for others. We need to do something now if we want our quality tourists to keep coming back!
Property crime out of control
I'm writing this letter to let the people of Whistler and Function Junction know of the rampant theft and lack of respect that is at play in Whistler presently.
I had my snowmobile and some helmets stolen from the Whistler store-all compound, from my locked, covered trailer in a flood-lit area, also under so-called surveillance cameras.
I have worked in Whistler for 12 years and find this kind of violation of ones personal property so repugnant that I have trouble putting my feelings to pen and paper.
The very fabric of the special place of Whistler and the Sea to Sky area is being destroyed by a criminal element that seems to be at work in Whistler at this time, fuelled by anger, greed and a total lack of any respect for their fellow man whatsoever.
This may seem like a very damning thing to say but I feel that it is a true picture of the evil lurking in the shadows of the resort of Whistler.
I hope that there can be a much more vigilant police effort put to this area of what seems to me is an out of control situation, and it also has far reaching negativity for the once very beautiful and inspiring areas around Whistler.
Stand firm on Ashlu
This letter was addressed to the SLRD board. A copy was forwarded to Pique.
On behalf of the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE), we would like to address the rezoning application for the Ashlu IPP. We understand that the SLRD has been asked to reconsider this rezoning for a second time.
It is clear that the SLRD provided a thorough review of this rezoning request that took two years and significant resources to complete. We would like to commend the SLRD for having made a sound decision based on extensive stakeholder and public input, and ask that the original decision not to grant the rezoning application stand firm.
We also ask that the SLRD continue to consider and push for a Regional Strategy on IPPs for the Sea to Sky corridor, as recommended by the Sea to Sky LRMP. Dealing with IPP rezoning applications on a case-by-case basis needlessly wastes valuable time and resources of not only the SLRD but of the areas stakeholders as well. With so many developments underway in the corridor, the SLRD has allocated a significant amount of its resources to this issue, and must now move forward. Regional planning requires a regional outlook with regional stakeholder input. The SLRD has demonstrated its ability to consider whats best for all stakeholders in the area it represents.
There are many applications to place IPPs on the area's rivers. AWARE recognizes the SLRDs qualifications to select the best applications to be considered, thereby eliminating these resource-intensive case by case rezoning applications.
President, on behalf of the
AWARE Board of Directors
American passion appreciated
Dear Mr. Rhoda and the American Friends of Whistler
I would like to thank you for your generous donation to the Whistler Public Library. When we move into the new library a year from now, the funds you have donated will help ensure that the shelves in the childrens area are full with an exciting collection of adventures, mysteries, and fantasies for the children to explore and treasure.
I would also like to thank you for a very enjoyable reception in which I was able to meet many of the regular Americans that call Whistler their second home. I found them to be as passionate about Whistler as many permanent residents that have been here many years. One couple I met drives five hours every weekend to come to Whistler. This passion is demonstrated though the very nature of the American Friends of Whistler. A group of people that has given thousands of dollars to worthwhile causes such as the Whistler Health Care Centre, the Food Bank and the Library, in a town and country that is not their permanent home. You are all to be commended on your generous nature and the Whistler community is lucky to have a group such as yourselves.
Whistler Public Library
A big thank you
I would like to thank the boys on the Whistler Mountain Ski Patrol for safely getting me off the mountain on Jan. 8 after a fall that would break both my leg and my heart, knowing that my ski season had just come to an abrupt end. I was in a fog of pain and with the wonderful laughing gas you provided I forgot to get your names, but I was impressed by how you got me out of a difficult area quickly and safely. You guys rock!
I would also like to thank my friends for the beautiful flowers and support. Watson and Soda are especially grateful for their second mom, Keeley.
Last but not least, thank you mom and dad for coming and looking after me. I would not be able to manage without you guys.
I cant wait to ski again (next year). Enjoy the pow and rip it up!