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This week's letter

Let the market prevail Re: Proposed Retail Business Size Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 1712 I view the above proposal with concern as it appears to be directed at a specific retailer and or a specific landlord.

Let the market prevail

Re: Proposed Retail Business Size Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 1712

I view the above proposal with concern as it appears to be directed at a specific retailer and or a specific landlord. I have done a great deal of the leasing and selling of retail strata lots in the village over the last 10 years and count many of the commercial retail tenants and property owners in Whistler as clients. If this type of strategy were to be implemented I believe it should have been done earlier, perhaps with our first Official Community Plan.

The proposal in my opinion is an inhibitor to the natural forces of our commercial retail market. The market is telling London Drugs that there is a need for them in Whistler just as it did for the operators of our multiplex theatre, Earls, Milestones, The Gap, Levi's and of course the original developers of Blackcomb. If it turns out that there is not, they will soon be gone. They are already successfully providing a needed service doing business in Whistler with their IGA store which did not harm our existing grocery stores at the time. In fact the IGA likely expanded the market allowing two of the larger stores to successfully expand their operations, one so much so, that it was purchased and replicated by a major grocery store chain.

A tastefully executed London Drugs with most of it below grade, matching the theme of the village will expand the retail mix, bring people into the area who would not normally be there and will enhance the business of other retailers and food and beverage outlets. Size should not be one of the criteria for prohibiting a business. If we had done this with restaurants over the last seven or eight years where in some cases sizes have doubled to between seven to eight thousand square feet we would be without most of our value-providing outlets who provide services at the same price as they do in Vancouver.

I urge you to reconsider such a policy and let the market prevail.

Bob Hamilton

Whistler

 

As the Callaghan unfolds…

Watching events unfold in the Callaghan Valley is somewhat akin to reading a coroner’s report. We know what the outcome is but why?

Mr. Belanger’s observations and the question of whether the direct award of a $15 million construction bid to First Nations will actually achieve the objective of increasing that community’s capacity to participate in the corridor’s future economy is a fair one. Awarding $15 million worth of work without benefit of tender is a questionable practice at best. We only have to watch the Gomery inquiry to see what happens when government decides to throw money at a problem without adequate checks and balances.

VANOC and the Crown decided years back to chart a new course with First Nations in an attempt to fulfill their legal commitments and with an intent to provide genuine accommodation for aboriginal participation both in the creation and the post operation of the Games. Undoubtedly, with this new course will come new challenges.

This contract award and the recent Crown Land grant at Mosquito Lake in Pemberton are glimpses at the first set of accommodations flowing from the Shared Legacies Agreement with First Nations valued at over $220 million. As Mr. Leo has stated there will be a need for "cross education with the non aboriginal community that First Nations will be having a presence."

I would suggest that the presence will be quite evident. What is not evident is the kind of strategy that would avoid what Mr. Leo has identified as adversarial positions that would prevent sustainable businesses post 2010 Games.

If these Olympics are to be seen as positive to the health of all communities in the corridor then both aboriginal and non aboriginal governments would be wise to implement more transparency in the policy they use to deal with these issues.

Brad Sills

BEG, Business for an Ethical Games

 

More electoral reform needed

I was recently re-elected to the board of Tourism Whistler as Hotel Lodging Director and I’d like to sincerely thank those who voted for me.

However, I’m concerned that of the approximately 7,000 members eligible to vote in the Board of Directors’ election, the results showed I won with only 164 ballots cast. Kerry Wallace was elected as Non-Hotel Lodging Director with only 99 ballots cast.

I raise this point because at the Tourism Whistler annual general meeting on April 26 one of two special resolutions – which called for board of director representation to be based on whether or not a complex is managed by a single manager instead of by ownership – was defeated. I personally voted against this resolution because I believe it takes away the democratic right of every condo owner who’s invested in Whistler. But again, only a few members voted.

Our board election for directors required members to vote online or use a mail-in ballot. To vote on two special resolutions at the AGM, members had to either attend the meeting in person or send in a proxy authorizing someone in attendance at the meeting to vote for them. I believe it only confuses members to have two different balloting days. And that’s not the way a world-class organization should handle its democratic governing issues.

Tourism Whistler must reform the way it deals with elections and other important issues. And staff can’t do it alone. They must draw upon the expertise of its elected board to help communicate with and reach out to the members. Only by staff and directors working together can we hope to stimulate critical member involvement in issues affecting how Tourism Whistler is run.

James T. Allard

Hotel Lodging Director

Whistler

 

Salud Joel

I was very saddened to learn of the passing of Joel Thibault from cancer earlier this month. I send my deepest sympathies to Angela and his extended Whistler family.

Joel was a "jolie-homme" bon vivant, a true gentleman, a facilitator of fun and good times, purveyor of fine wine, fantastic food and amazingly good company. Certainly there were not too many dull moments in his life.

My favourite Joel memory was when we boogy-ed down on a full moon night in 2004 to Buckwheat Zydeco at Buffalo Bill’s and had way too much fun. Joel invited Buckwheat’s band back to his house where we continued to have way too much fun, mostly legal, and Joel set-up a telescope so we could all take turns looking at the spectacular vision of Saturn when it was blazing at its fullest, and most spectacular moment. That was one of the last times that I saw Joel as I moved out of Whistler shortly after.

Bastille Day will no longer be the same – maybe we should rename it "Joel’s Bastille Day", at least in Whistler.

Salud Joel!

Paul Benoit

Toronto

 

Hooray for restaurateurs

Re: Getting real, by Tim Gorgichuk (Pique letters May 12)

Tim, why so bitter? Everyone knows Whistler is expensive, but the views are still free and guess what, bicycle prices aren't determined by Tourism Whistler and you won't find better deals on fine dining in the city or anywhere.

Instead of thinking of yourself all the time and pouting on paper, think for a second about the workers in the restaurants who are still getting full hours (in the dead season), so they can buy a new bike or go golfing. I'm sure glad I haven't been laid off because there is no one here.

I'm giving a hip, hip hooray to the local restaurateurs. As for you Tim, make yourself a peanut butter sandwich and move to the city, I'm tired of your whining.

Chris McKinney

Whistler

 

Green and low impact

A letter published last week by someone upset that Green Party candidate Dennis Perry owns a cabin on Spruce Lake and flies there in a float plane burning fossil fuels and disturbing wildlife – wow... what a scandal! Like Dennis needs to practise what he preaches or something.

I don't think Mr. Tener really understands where (at least where I think) the Green Party is coming from.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but going "green" isn't about living in a cave or being Amish. I envision B.C. and Canada with Green Party influence in government as a place where we encourage and reward choosing low-impact options for our everyday activities. This approach could mean one day you'll be able to touch down on Spruce Lake in a float plane running on energy harnessed by a wind turbine or solar panel. In the meantime we don't have to be ashamed of getting out and enjoying our province's few remaining semi-pristine places.

Wise choices by government will lead to the people making low impact choices by default because they make obvious economic and practical sense rather than to feel righteous and avoid feeling guilty.

Darcy Trevelyan

Whistler

 

Elevation tour for 99

The Eagleridge Bluffs controversy keeps raging on, perhaps needlessly (Pique letters, April 14 and 28, May 5; Tunnel proponents suffer setback May 12). Earlier, I've suggested an outside-the-box but hardly exotic upgrade option for Highway 99 in several forums, including Pique (SkyTrain the highway solution, July 5, 2002). With no reaction either endorsing or debunking my proposal, I was tempted to quit while I was behind, but I feel passionately enough on the subject to headbutt the proverbial brick wall one more time. I just hope I get published and the powers that be note and investigate.

A green and sustainable Sea to Sky Highway upgrade to four lanes seems essential for this tourism-dependent, 2010-bound province. I find both positions in the West Vancouver-B.C. Ministry of Transportation tiff over Eagleridge Bluffs flawed. West Vancouver's tunnel proposal is too expensive per kilometre. The ministry's plan to lash the unfortunate mountain with a new, four-lane roadbed above the existing highway would be environmentally and visually offensive. It would leave tourists, ferry passengers, 2010 visitors, locals and greens asking, "Did they have to do that?"

The ministry shouldn't have to. There is a technically, economically, environmentally and esthetically compatible way to put four lanes through the Howe Sound Corridor, finesse the Horseshoe Bay ferry traffic and leave Eagleridge Bluffs undisturbed. Specifically, the ministry should view the present Highway 99 as the two-lane, one-way, north-bound half of the eventual four lane highway. The south-bound half would have two types of sections, conventional and elevated. Where the present roadbed can be easily widened to four lanes conventionally, the north and south-bound halves would run side-by-side on the same roadbed. Through the difficult sections the ministry should "twin" the existing highway with a new, two-lane concrete roadbed elevated on a series of supporting columns (piers) erected along the mountainside. The elevated road would snake between the present highway and the BC Rail (CN) tracks as dictated by the terrain. At Horseshoe Bay the elevated road would overpass the ferry traffic and splice into the Upper Levels Highway somewhere east of Horseshoe Bay.

Technically, the rougher terrain and the more congested the area, the more appropriate the elevated option. Picture-esquely put, an elevated road is a long bridge over land. A SkyTrain-like structure with a roadbed – instead of train guideways – spanning the supporting piers. SkyTrain illustrates the benefits. Similarily, a concrete roadbed raised high enough on piers could run along a rugged mountainside without digging into it. Yet the ministry seems reluctant to utilize them where they would do us a world of good: in our mountains. We already have elevated roadway construction experience, most recently with the Millennium SkyTrain line.

Economically, the elevated option would let us substitute concrete and/or steel construction for violent, costly rock work. The price of elevating should be in the ballpark. The ministry's proposed 2.4 km upslope highway would cost $130 million. The 16 km elevated section of the Millennium Line was contracted for $209 million in 2000. Even if elevating in the corridor would cost significantly more than the conventional construction, we should bite the bullet. The elevated road would be a powerful symbol of our environmental commitment and esthetic sensitivity. It would be a tourist attraction in its own right and a selling point in tourism advertising.

Road safety would be greatly improved by doubling road capacity and dividing the highway. An elevated road would also be virtually immune from slides, washouts and falling rock. It could maintain the road link (single lane both directions) even in a north-bound emergency.

Environmentally, construction on the ground would largely be limited to the footprint areas of the supporting piers. We would avoid the massive, continuous ground disturbance that characterizes conventional road construction. On my recent trip to Squamish I was dismayed at the amount of rock work and sidecasting being done.

Esthetically, tampering with the supernatural needlessly may have been acceptable in the 20 th century. In the 21 st , we need to think in terms of a gracefully arching and curving elevated roadway with minimum environmental impact, complementing the spectacular Howe Sound landscape.

The concept deserves at least a feasibility study. Talking to local engineers with Millennium Line experience would be a fruitful first step. I am certain the study would confirm the advantages I claim.

Joe Bako

Vancouver

 

Work to rule

I am writing to voice my concerns over the Nita Lake development. With regards to the fact that the development seems to have very few local workers on their work force.

I do believe people have the right to hire whomever they want to fill their workforce. It does, however, bother me that they make noise until the sun goes down, bothering all the locals who live nearby. They could easily hire some more people and work a standard eight hour day, thus making the neighbourhood more peaceful, and putting food on more people’s plates.

I feel that the little regard that is shown towards hiring a local workforce is now spilling over into allowing the outside workforce to disregard the right to peaceful dinnertime surroundings for the residents of Whistler.

This issue affects me personally as I sometimes couch surf in the same neighborhood as the Nita Lake development.

Not being from another area outside of Whistler I am starting to think the only job where a local might, perhaps, be considered over an out of towner is mayor, although I am not entirely sure that this is the case.

I will find out, however as I am planning on running for mayor in the next civic election.

Mike Jeffreys

Whistler

 

Hitting home

Re: Pokhara Perspective; A view of tourism from half a world away by Van Powel (Pique May 12)

I enjoyed this article very much. It is insightful to let the people of our world know how fortunate and lacking in problems we really are. Our lives are complex and hurried but we have quite safe environments with plenty of good food and learning facilities for our children. Those of other lands struggle for the rice on their tables that we would throw out. They have big hearts and smiles with kind eyes.

Having travelled in many parts of Asia myself I felt like I was transported to the scene Van described. And knowing as well as he was relaying it that we always feel so privileged when we are faced with the native people's courage in their plight to stay alive. I hope to hear more of this adventure or others like it. Van Clayton Powel brings many points of interest home. Thank you.

Dale Hughes

Fort Langley, B.C.

 

May Fair success

The Alta Lake School would like to express heartfelt gratitude to those individuals and businesses that made our 5th Annual May Fair such a splendid success. The raindrops did not dampen the spirits of those who came out to create, dance and sing in this artful celebration of spring.

A very special thank you to Judith MacKenzie from the RMOW who is always such a great help, to Bruce Stewart at Nesters Market for his generous and continuous support and to Ian Cruickshank at Mountain FM for helping spread the word on the airwaves. Thanks, once again, to Senka Flowers for donating the flowers that the children made into beautiful garlands, to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for the caramel, and to the Whistler Roasting Company for the fine locally roasted coffee. A huge thank you also to Margie & Mark at Java for the baked goods, and Al at Aphrodite’s Organic Pie Shop & Café on W. 4th Ave in Vancouver for the organic pie and quiche.

See you all at the Christmas Fair!

Peggy Vogler

Whistler




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