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This week's letters

There have been a few Pique stories and letters recently that have mentioned Revelstoke, and pointed out some of the connections that may be of interest to Whistlerites as we head for 2010.

There have been a few Pique stories and letters recently that have mentioned Revelstoke, and pointed out some of the connections that may be of interest to Whistlerites as we head for 2010. I was saddened to learn that there may be no legacy for Nordic events after the Winter Olympic Games. B.C. has a long history of cross-country skiing and ski jumping that we should be keen to continue. Revelstoke had, at one point, the premier jumping hill in North America. The letter from Iola Knight mentions the 1920s, but Nils Nilsen started jumping on small hills he built in Revelstoke as far back as 1915, and her note brought back memories of foot-packing the Òbig hillÓ when I was a kid. She also mentions NilsÕs 1925 world record jump of 240 feet. Not much by modern standards, but it put Revelstoke, B.C., and Canada in front of the world. Although Nils was selected as a competitor for the 1928 Olympics in St. Moritz, there was no funding for travel, and it was not considered ÒbefittingÓ for athletes to Òwork their passage.Ó This must be the same Canadian ski jumping program that Andrew Mitchell mentions in his story. I guess things don't change much. Nils' brother Ivind was also a world junior ski jumping champion, and his widow Thelma (my Godmother) still lives in Revelstoke.

In the 1940s and 1950s when Whistler was not yet a gleam in Don MacLaurinÕs eye, there was some serious skiing going on in Revelstoke. Both Iola Knight and Gerrry Reynolds mention the big downhills of the time, and skiers who later contributed much to the development of skiing in Vancouver and Whistler, including Earl Pletsch who was a ski buddy of my dadÕs back in Revelstoke.

Andrew had another recent story about a Revelstoke lad winning the Randonnee Rally event in Whistler. Well I guess! A 10 km race must be easy for someone with a Revelstoke heritage, although IÕll admit I probably could not make 1 km.

I have a newspaper cutting; I believe from 1939, showing three Revelstoke skiers, Bill and Donny McCrae and Jim McDonald, who had just completed a two-day trek to Jasper as part of a 500 mile loop trip to Banff.

In wool shirts.

With really long, heavy wooden skis.

Ah, those were the days — when men were men, women wore ski parkas trimmed with bunny fur, and there was not a snowboard in sight.

Michael Barrett Whistler

The CSP (Whistler 2020) is an excellent document that will guide us into the future. Issues that will continue to face us can be addressed and community decisions can be made using the guidelines and principles of the CSP. That doesnÕt mean there wonÕt be challenges balancing the three legs of environmental, social and economic sustainability.

LetÕs take London Drugs as an example.

Will their request to expand existing retail space to meet their needs have any environmental downside? Probably not, since their request falls within the existing footprint of the building. Will their request move us away from our vision from a social perspective? Absolutely not, they are well known for offering a broad range of products at very competitive prices, and therefore will address the affordability challenge locals face. So how does their request to expand existing retail space fit the economic sustainable vision?

The current economic reality as described in the CSP describes retail as a Òslightly decreasing trend,Ó and ÒOver the past three years, there has been declining activity in tourism visits, visitor accommodation and construction activity and retail sales, while recreation and snow sport has been flat.Ó So this begs the question: If business is declining, is this the right time to expand existing retail space?

On page 27 of Volume 1 of Whistler 2020 (the CSP), in bold font it reads ÒLocally owned and operated businesses are key to WhistlerÕs innovation, character and success.Ó So does expanding existing retail space to allow a one-stop company like London Drugs, who sell everything from drugs to housewares to electronics, move us towards our vision?

So back to the balancing act, how important is our economic sustainability? Our council may be called upon to make that assessment, so itÕs important that we actively engage (citizen engagement) and let them know what we think before they are required to reach a decision, and not wait until after to criticizeÉ as some of us do.

I donÕt actually see this as an issue about London Drugs; I see it as an issue about expanding retail space when business conditions donÕt warrant it. As it says on page 8 of Volume 1 ÒMaintaining economic health and vitality is a powerful strategy for achieving sustainability.Ó So if you feel (as I do), that expanding our existing retail space at this time does not move us towards economic health and vitality, then please talk to councillors, write letters, make some noiseÉ be heard.

It also bothers me that if London Drugs believes this is such a good thing for Whistler, why do they need a professional lobbyist to influence our municipal government? IÕm also somewhat troubled that this lobbyist is also the husband of our provincial Liberal candidateÉ it might not be a big deal, but it doesnÕt help my comfort level.

Bob Lorriman Whistler

It seems that with all of this rain which has ravaged ours and many other winter recreation businesses we should be applying for some provincial and federal aid for this unprecedented attack of Mad Cloud Disease.

We didnÕt even feed the clouds; other clouds mixed in with regular cloud seeding feed.

This recent outbreak has ravaged the local businesses and may have severely affected future business by scaring off potential guests.

I suggest we petition Prime Minister Paul Martin and Premier Gordon Campbell who could then pay for a U2 concert which could be scheduled for April 29 following the concert being held in Vancouver slated for April 28th.

Grant Lamont Whistler

This winter I have noticed ads in the Pique, on busses, and in local magazines telling me that I ÒdeserveÓ a piece of the Whistler Lifestyle. With the last few weeksÕ weather in mind, are they all implying that I am a bad person?

Jonathan Van Drunen Whistler

Spare your change

On yet another wet and grey day I got to sorting through my penny jar (nothing much else to do!), and I got to thinking just how much money must be sitting in jars, cups and bottles nationwide and worldwide. If everyone were to take it to the bank (and banks please have compassion and don't ask us to roll all the silly pennies into fiddly rolls, which is the reason most of the money stays in a jar in the first place) and donate it to charity it would add millions of dollars to good causes. Go on, go get your penny jar! Spare your change.

Sarah Bourne Whistler

I am very pleased to be part of a community that has been so generous with its donations to help the victims of the terrible tsunami that wreaked havoc in Asia. Watching my teenage cousin donate half of his paycheques to the Red Cross, my workplace hold a fundraiser to aid the cause, and members of the public putting dollar after dollar into donation boxes, truly made me feel better about humanity. It appears the spirit of giving is still alive and well in Canada! I am so thankful.

There was a news report on TV about how the Salvation Army's donations decreased to a near standstill after the tsunami occurred. This worried me greatly and got me thinking about the many times I have heard the phrase Òwelfare bumÓ and other saddening terms regarding our own disadvantaged. The many times I have seen people on the street who could be warmed by a winter coat or filled by a sandwich.

So, in deciding where my donations might be best spent, I have opted to try and help out those of us, here, who are suffering in their lives. We are sending millions upon millions of dollars to help rebuild lives overseas, which is badly needed, but what about the lives of our own starving, mentally ill, and homeless folk? I sometimes feel that we are too quick to look past the people struggling at our own doorsteps.

If we had a fundraiser, ÒCanada for Canadians,Ó and raised as much money as we have for the tsunami aid, we could potentially end homelessness and hunger in Canada! Imagine the amount of good we could do for other countries if we were all doing all right ourselves. We need to practice both generosity for other places in need, and here in our own home as well.

I am happy that we as a society are willing to help and are actually doing so. I hope that our donations are able to make a big difference to those in need; wherever in the world they may reside.

TobyAnne Dendy Whistler

You hit the nail on the head when you identified Òthe shop employee who doesnÕt have proper trainingÓ as one of the problems WhistlerÕs business owners are facing (Opening Remarks, Jan. 20, 2005). Proper training for employees, both front line and management, is crucial to our efforts to deliver excellent service to our guests.

Efforts have been made to increase our ÒvalueÓ in the last 12 months, yet much more should be done to address the communityÕs training needs.

What is required now is a commitment to provide a community wide, comprehensive training program for all of the resortÕs employees; a made-in-Whistler solution to meet our training needs. Providing this type of training would require a good deal of teamwork, something you also identified as a necessary ingredient to successful negotiation of our future path, but the potential benefits are enormous.

Besides improved service, happier staff and guests, there is also the opportunity to create what Rick Lemon (VP of Tourism B.C.) describes as ÒTourism Magnet SchoolsÓ — combine the appeal of a destination resort with educational opportunities and you have an attractive new product ready to market. The Canadian Tourism Commission has identified education and cultural tourism as an area of significant growth.

There is nothing we can do about global tourism numbers or the weather, but improving service is something we can all do, and training is something we can all participate in. Now all we need is some leadership to make it happen.

Ralph Forsyth Whistler

This is crappy

The attempted privatization of the sewage treatment plant leads me to believe that there is a privatization agenda by upper level members of the municipality. While claims may be made that this partnership has many benefits, the public should scrutinize those who make such claims carefully for it is nothing more then a quick way to funnel public money into a corporate structure.

Today it may be the multi-million dollar sewage treatment plant handed over to a major corporation. Tomorrow it may be the Meadow Park Sports Arena. After that it may be the roads department, who is to say? But one thing is for sure, the privatization of the utilities department, which will be the privatization of Whistlers public water supply, will not be the last. It is already happening with work being taken from the department and handed over to private contractors. Ask any utilities department municipal worker and they may just risk their job and admit that they are now competing with private companies for various jobs that take place at publicly owned water stations around the valley. If I were a taxpayer in Whistler I would lynch someone before I swallowed this.

Bjorn Gimse Victoria

LetÕs move on

Why are our politicians, some churches and citizens devoting valuable resources towards debating whether a man or woman can marry the same sex? I just can not wrap my head around this. There are currently massive issues that deserve far more attention in the grand scheme of things.

Reports suggest 6 million children die each year in developing countries, mostly from hunger related causes. According to a UN backed report, half the worldÕs population is living in unsanitary conditions without access to clean water and proper sanitation. WhatÕs more, the most disturbing statistic for me is, according to a UN water expert, the equivalent of 12 jumbo jets of children die everyday from sanitation-related diseases. There is an AIDS epidemic in Africa, mass crimes against humanity in SudanÉ the list goes on.

With all of this being said, I find it deeply troubling that one of the main topics of the day on the news, talk radio, in some churches, and Capital Hill is whether gays/lesbians should have the right to wed. Why canÕt we just let people live their lives (as long as theyÕre not harming anyone) however they want to live them? I am married and by allowing same-sex marriage, I certainly do not feel the foundation on which I was married would become unstable or compromised. Moreover, I donÕt believe the moral fabric of society will begin to unravel upon the widespread acceptance of same-sex marriage.

LetÕs try and be open minded and focus our resources on more pressing issues.

Beau Jarvis Whistler/Pemberton

The end is near

I have lived in Whistler for over 10 years and in that time I have many fond memories but as time goes by I realize Whistler is merely an illusion and those fond memories seem distant and distorted. Here are the top five problems I have with Whistler.

1. Public Transit: All public transit systems should serve their local community by providing the most services to the routes that warrant them through the highest ridership. Yet the overflowing Creekside route leaves riders behind while the free village shuttle goes by empty every five minutes. This transparent slap in the face to the community leads to a poor...

2. Work Ethic: Maybe it's because we live in a resort community but people here take pride in doing as little as possible with the least amount of effort. From the servers who feel they deserve 20 per cent of an already inflated bill for bringing food and drinks to already gouged guests to the mountain employees who can barely contain their contempt for those same guests. Who's to blame...?

3. The Mountains: One of the worst things to happen in the last decade was the merging of the two mountains under one monstrous corporate umbrella. A market with competition is always better than a monopoly. What does this breed...?

4. Greed: How much is enough? There doesn't seem to be an end to the greed of the mountains, business owners and landlords. From the skyrocketing price of lift tickets to the ridiculous price of goods and services to the almost criminal price of rents and real estate. What could end this...?

5. Weather: I'm sure that in the Õ60s when this dream was formed the snow was abundant and no one thought our encroachment could possibly change this winter wonderland. Yet it doesn't take a meteorological genius to see that we have had a detrimental effect on our environment over the last 40 years and it will only get worse. Being too close to the coast and having a top elevation of less than 8,000 feet has our temperatures already on the verge of being too warm to sustain a world class ski resort. With the world watching during the rainstorms of the world snowboard championships (in mid to late January) everyone better re-think where they and Whistler are heading. After five more years of global warming what will the world see during the Olympics and what effect will that have on this community?

To summarize, we have a flawed system with a disgruntled workforce in an over-priced mountain town where the only thing that is unique is our predictably poor weather. Are these the keys to sustainability or a recipe for disaster?

Tim Gorgichuk Whistler

A late, but heartfelt thanks to Paula Sherman and Roger Weetman of the RMOW for all their effort helping raise funds for the Whistler Nordics and Red Cross Tsunami fund at the Lost Lake Shuffle! Thanks also to all of you who bought hot dogs: $160 was raised, half for the Tsunami fund and half for the Nordics!

Karen Blaylock for Whistler Nordics Ski Club

On Jan. 20th, the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program held their second Annual Fundraiser at HozÕs pub.

As volunteers with the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program, Rocket and I are just two people who had a goal to raise much needed funds. Our first year we retrieved golf balls washed and sold them, we didnÕt do too badly, just like the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program, weÕve all come a long way.

Hugs and kisses (from Kelly) and a handshake (from Rocket) to the Hair Farmers for yet again donating their time and voices to another worthwhile cause (Doug, we think you should be voted Citizen of the Year).

Ron Hosner, well what can we say except thanks so much for making all of us feel welcome and helping us out. (Kelly would give you a kiss if she could reach your face.)

To all the businesses that helped out, we understand how many times you get Òhit upÓ for donations to worthwhile charities. We wish you a successful season.

To everyone who came and participated in this event, thank you.

To every other Òworthwhile causeÓ in Whistler, keep at it and we wish you all the best in whatever cause you share.

To the WASP volunteers, thanks so much for deciding to volunteer with us, itÕs not the easiest volunteer job and all of us Òlong-time WASP volunteersÓ really appreciate your help.

To our WASP athletes, keep working at it. We understand your road isnÕt easy and we salute your integrity.

See you on the hills.

Bob ÒRocketÓ Richards Kelly Lee-Richards Whistler

How did they do it?

I am not sure how the people involved feel about the recent FIS Snowboard World Championships but they should be very proud to have pulled it all together under such adverse conditions. We stood at the bottom of the halfpipe on Saturday morning in amazement: the pipe was in great shape and despite the rain — umbrellas were the look of the day — a full day of competition ran like clockwork. Hats off to the events department — Cate you rock — the groomers and snowmakers and the sponsors, and to the fabulous vollies a heartfelt thank you. The world may have seen a lot of rain but they also saw how Whistler rose to the occasion. Hats off to you all and hereÕs to 2010.

Alix & John Nicoll Whistler