I read the full page ad in last week's Pique and couldn't help wondering who it was from. The bold lettering and splash of green made it look a lot like a campaign sign for an upcoming election. But was the message from a hopeful mayoral candidate getting an early start; a group of village merchants who would like to see an arena nearby to bolster business; or maybe a group of village merchants backing a hopeful mayoral candidate? It was hard to say because nobody was willing to sign their name to the ad.
I thought I could clear up everything and avoid writing this letter by going to the website. After a string of six increasingly ludicrous and evasive e-mails, I was still unable to find out who is behind OurWhistler, apart from one person speaking on their behalf. Two of the three postings on the site (as of Tuesday) asked who the group of concerned citizens are and who they're funded by. The reply was that "the focus should be on where the community is headed," and that "OurWhistler.com is not meant to speak for people, but rather give people a place to speak." Great, but who are they?
When it comes to public dialogue, identifying one's self is essential. Otherwise the whole effort smacks of a hidden agenda, and a lack of transparency and honest communication. Sounds a lot like what the anonymous ads are complaining about at muni hall.
Of Mac and Tosh and Alex
I am writing in response to the letter from Alex Scott about "The Charging Dog". I am 10 years old and live next door to Alex and her dogs Mac and Tosh. I play with Mac and Tosh almost everyday for the past five years. A few months ago, my brother was bitten by a dog that lives on Valley Drive and he didn't even receive an apology from the owners, even though they knew about him being bitten and how to contact him.
I think Alex is a very responsible dog owner since she wrote a letter and apologized for what Tosh did. I am glad that nobody was hurt. I think Mac and Tosh are wonderful dogs and that Alex is a very good person.
Request for ice time
The present ice arena with its magnificent view, etc. must be one of the finest skating facilities in North America, and thanks to the staff who create probably the best ice in British Columbia.
Having said that, I do wish to register a simple complaint. Ice skating on Saturdays and Sundays for many tourists, local school children and Vancouver city Whistlerites, who come up only on the weekends, represents a most attractive alternative and represents an equal activity to five or six other sporting activities available at Whistler.
In the beginning, before the present permanent population rose, the ice arena and much of Whistler was built and financed by the taxes of the weekend "turkeys" from Vancouver. These people are now largely excluded from the arena they built. Midweek skating or even Friday night skating does not accommodate the majority of these people.
A very significant amount of the available ice time, especially on weekends is now rented out in blocks to various hockey tournaments to the exclusion of public skating. I am all for the hockey tournaments and understand fully the financial implications of the "rent-outs". However, there must be included on weekends some time slots for public skating. Many times during tournament weekends, for example, I have visited the rink at noon hour to see an empty arena. Surely the people that built the rink deserve a little kick at the can, too.
The last straw
As I write my second $12,000 cheque and toss it into the literal money pit at Eva Lake Village, my only comfort is that I don't own a larger unit and have to pay twice as much. Legal consulting and additional repair bills will follow. Somehow I try to replace the bitter taste with the sweet Whistler I invested in 15 years ago.
I remember the late 80s when nearly everyone could afford a ski pass and the time to chalk up 100+ days a year. Sure there was a "housing crisis" back then, but that applied to winter transients. Any local, through word of mouth could find an affordable place to live. For a few dollars you could stay at Seppo's or the UBC lodge until something else came through. Or you could couch surf or squat or camp in the day lots. Life was simpler, easy. It was a time when you could leave your skis or bike unlocked in the village overnight. You could hitchhike from anywhere at anytime. I trusted this town and poured my heart and soul into it.
I think fondly of the several dozen "employees" I've rented my place out to over the years for substantially less than other suites. I believe I was fair and honest with all of them and they respected me likewise. I wish I could offer any new tenants the same deals I used to but financially, it's difficult. I have to pay the interest on an exhausted line of credit, higher strata fees, increased taxes, and rising fuel costs to commute from Birken. This domino effect is why I refer to this situation as a community problem.
The concept of affordable housing is not just creating an authority, setting restrictions, compiling waitlists, or amassing a huge slush fund from developers. Its very root lies in the taking care of the members of our community by offering reasonable rent even when the opportunity to gouge is present. Affordability becomes distant with every teardown, with every room that remains vacant and every discriminating ad seeking only professional single non smoking females with no pets and the season's rent up front. So much of Whistler's fabric has changed for the worse due to greedy and elitist landlords.
I will offer my tenants a discount to put up with the disruption of the upcoming reconstruction. I also believe the muni has a responsibility to rectify this problem now. As a taxpayer and lease holder of "their land", I should be compensated for their past mistakes. The owners of Eva Lake are perhaps the only 36 people in all of Whistler who are presently denied the opportunity to "cash in and walk away" like so many others have. I believe the WHA should buy us out before people go bankrupt. I never wanted to lose faith in this town but unless the muni can walk the walk instead of just talking the talk, it just may be the last straw for me.
Simple plans still work
Your editorial last week (July 28, 2005, " The path once travelled") raises some excellent questions about the direction of our town. While Galbraiths economic views may have been obscured recently, his thoughts on leadership are timeless.
Most relevant however are his views on "conventional wisdom" (Galbraith coined the term). Conventional wisdom would suggest that Whistler embark on another marketing campaign or a new strategy to capture emerging markets. As Galbraith pointed out, conventional wisdom is almost always wrong.
Now consider the hedgehog concept espoused by Jim Collins in "Good to Great" (a book about why some companies become great and others fail). Companies that are like foxes work endlessly on strategies and systems to keep on top; alas they are doomed to fail. Companies that follow the hedgehog concept focus on three things; what they can be the best in the world at, what they are passionate about, and what drives their economic engine.
Its true that in the economic crisis of the 80s, it was a simpler time, but what is still true today is that a simple plan can still work. Individual businesses can work collectively for mutual benefit.
We can all agree that were the best resort in the world. Everyone that lives here is passionate about our town and our product, and its tourists that drive the economy.
As suggested in Galbraiths quote, what is required now is leadership to articulate the belief that we are still number one and to start acting like it.
A tasty solution
As the Canadian BBQ Championships get bigger each year, so does the fundraising component of this great event. This past weekend the residents and visitors of Whistler bought taster's passes and raised an unbeleivable $3,700 for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada. Well Done Whistler!
A huge thank you goes to Paul Street, Josh Kearns, and Joel Chevalier from Dusty's and Whistler-Blackcomb who were so kind as to have us back again this year to raise money for a wonderful cause. Also thanks to all the competitors who were so kind as to share their amazing BBQ food with all of us with taster's passes.
Past years have seen us raise money for B.C.'s Children's Hospital and we have averaged approx $1,500 each of those years, so 2005 was a huge success.
Crohn's and Colitis are inflammatory bowel diseases which affect over 170,000 Canadians. Thanks to everyone for helping to find a cure. Now get yourself down to Dusty's and enjoy some dog gone good BBQ! And if you bought a taster's pass this past weekend, give yourself a pat on the back.
Dave and Wendy Clark
I would like to answer one of Councillor Nick Daviess questions inquiring if Whistler taxpayers are willing to see their taxes increase in order to fund a multi-million dollar ice arena in the village.
I say go ahead! This will indeed benefit the kids (young and not so young) of our community and create employment. It beats seeing our tax dollars wasted on a useless feasibility study on a local airport project. All we have to do is listen to Mike Quinn (or anyone else who has flown throughout this corridor) to realize this project will never materialize. Or having our tax dollars being used to send a few elite council members to Torino (thank you Harvey Lim for your letter in Pique). Haven't we just recently sent you guys to Salt Lake City? Wasn't that trip educational enough and costly enough?
Long ago I chose not to waste my opinion on local politics, but here's a suggestion: What if we were to abolish the $20,000 airport analysis, the $33,000 trip to Torino and save $53,000 to put toward the construction of the arena? To me this is a simple mathematical equation among many others available to us. All one needs to do is think.
Anyhow, I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank Ken Melamed for his dedication. The day he leaves politics is the day I will lose all hope Whistler can be saved.
Congratulations to the mayor and council of Squamish for doing the work they were elected for politicians acting in the best interest of their community and not for profits, personal gain and fame. It seems they have found a way of doing business without raising their taxes. Don't you all wonder why we couldn't come up with a similar plan? Or any plan!
And last but not least, kudos to G.D. Maxwell for always pointing out to us how politics has become the farce and waste of the new millennium. Interesting how your entertainment is never far from the truth.
Editors note: the airport study is being funded by Whistler-Blackcomb and Tourism Whistler.
The war on drugs comes north
I was shocked to discover that Canada has joined the American war on drugs with the arrest and possible extradition of Internet pot seed dealer Marc Emery and two others in Vancouver. The entire thing seems very odd. Although Im not a lawyer, my understanding of Canadian extradition laws are that a Canadian citizen cant be extradited if they face sentencing not in line with what they would face in a Canada. Certainly a minimum 10-year sentence for selling marijuana seeds far exceeds anything that they would face in a Canadian court. Considering the sales were made in Canada and mailed to the United States, shouldnt this be a case for the Canadian courts in the first place?
I cant help but think that these guys are far guiltier of flaunting their pro pot beliefs and lifestyles than they are of anything else. When the DaKine café on Commercial Drive was busted last summer, I took a trip down to check it out for myself. I found the whole thing fascinating, and decided I was going to try and buy some pot, retail. The first thing I noticed was a CTV satellite truck parked around the corner, probably waiting for another bust. When I arrived at DaKine, I was told that the dope was being held in a secret location, and only being brought over in small loads in case they were busted again. I was told to come back in a half hour, so I took a walk through the neighborhood and asked a few of the local shop keepers what they made of it all. All of them said DaKine was a great neighbor, and street dealers in the area had completely disappeared since the place had been open. Returning to the store, I found that the limited stash had already sold out, so I finally gave up on that idea.
To get a bit of perspective, I drove 10-minutes west to the corner of Main and Hastings streets, which has the interesting duality of being the easiest place in North America to score just about any kind of illegal drug, and the location of the main downtown Vancouver Police station. Walking around the police station, I noticed several hard eyed Central American looking guys dealing either heroin, crack, or meth amphetamine from balloons hidden in their mouths. On top of the crack/crank/smack dealers, were the desperate looking prostitutes and dumpster divers who are the ever-present camp followers of the hard drug trade.
Why the police couldnt simply walk out their front door and bust the hard drug dealers who are wreaking havoc on the China Town and Mt. Pleasant neighborhoods, rather than taking a lot of time and energy to break up the community friendly operation on Commercial Drive, or Marc Emerys on-line seed dealership, is a point completely open to personal interpretation.
On a larger scale, the entire war on drugs has been a pathetic failure. Fifteen years into it, drugs can easily be bought in any major American city. America has the largest per capita prison population, based primarily on mandatory sentencing for non-violent drug offences. Military aid meant for anti-drug initiatives in Central and South America, and Asia, has gone to oppressing rebel and opposition groups. The fact that we are considering sending non-violent Canadian citizens to face justice in this brutal and pointless war on drugs is appalling.
Watermelon for cancer research
My mothers bald head seemed shocking last year when I stood in the doorway of my parents house in Arlington, TX. Still, not wanting her to see my fear or concern, I hugged her thin frame trying not to be aware of the scars where her femininity was once displayed.
Breast cancer entered our home the day before Christmas Eve 2003, and the greater part of 2004 was spent determining to not have our lives taken away from us by a disease.
My mother, of course, bore the greatest burden, seeing doctors and nutritionists who facilitated traditional and homeopathic treatments, losing weight, hair, and a breast, but never for a moment, her dignity. Our family is large and varies in age and maturity. With 13 children, some grown and the youngest a scant three years of age, we looked cancer in the face and somehow learned to laugh amid our grief and our fears.
Within days of cancer entering our home, a strange sense of community began to emerge. Everyone knows someone affected by cancer. People came out of the woodwork with their stories, calling Mom, listening to us kids, and giving Dad a break by providing meals and hospital visits and transportation. E-mails poured in, and survivors we hadnt known we needed to know began to come around Mom and all of us, determined to see us through. We learned terminology and educated ourselves on treatment. My mother bought a juicer. Aunts came and cooked meals and played with the children. A friend drove home to Texas with me to simply walk with us during a month of out of town treatments. I was living in Toronto at the time.
And Mom survived. Remission, it turns out, is a synonym for a marriage of redemption and relief. My mothers broken body began to heal. Her hair grew back. My brothers stopped asking if Mom was going to die while they were playing with the kids next door. Our laughter became less nervous, our vocabulary for the future more sure.
The sense of community, however, has never left, and it is this sense of community that is needed for all the women and those who love them who will face breast cancer. It may seem a bit odd for a girl from Texas to ask for help from the Whistler community, but I plea nonetheless.
The Weekend to End Breast Cancer comes to Vancouver Aug. 19-21, 2005 and Stace Chomlack and Ferris Boyd of Whistler are participants. This fundraiser is built on the concept of community that forges determination and courage in those who battle, not by choice, breast cancer. Each participant commits to raise $2,000, and each is coming alongside someone or is someone who has walked through breast cancer. Stace and Ferris are my friends, women who walked with me while I was walking with my mother. She is one of the ones theyll be walking for in a few weeks, and in an effort to further the funds theyll contribute, they are selling watermelon at the Farmers Market, 1,200 pieces of watermelon to be exact. Twelve-hundred pieces of watermelon will allow them to reach their goal; more will allow them to exceed it. They sold watermelons at the market last weekend, bringing in over $400. Over the next couple of weekends, theyre determined to sell dozens more, determined to be a part of believing that hope for a cure is not enough.
Please join Stace and Ferris and the countless survivors and friends in participating in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer. A piece of watermelon for a dollar at the Farmers Market in the summertime seems a small price to pay towards a dream of seeing breast cancer cured. So come and have a cool melon on a hot day, share your story, and be a part of a great cause.