The employees perspective
Re: Labour unions duking it out (Pique News, Jan. 5)
As the Elected Chief Steward for the CLAC members at Kiewit (PKS), I would like to briefly comment on the employees perspective in this raid attempt by the TEL Group. CLAC is not "vying" to represent us, nor is it an upstart. It represents us already, and does so effectively. This raid initiative comes from the international unions, not from the employees, and these unions have been trying to raid us every year this millennium; it hasnt worked because we already have a good union that looks after us.
The members of CLAC like the fact that we can deal with one Canadian union, instead of three American unions. Our union has 50 years of history representing all kinds of Canadian workers. Our contract was accepted by 98 per cent in a secret ballot vote. It provides us great rates and an excellent benefit plan. Our unions RRSP puts the money in the accounts of employees, rather than propping up the under-funded pension plans of the international unions making up the TEL Group.
Maybe the TEL Group/internationals should focus on organizing some non-union employees, instead of just trying to horn in on the success story that labour and management are working hard to create at PKS.
Chief Steward for CLAC at PKS
Questions to ponder
I would like to commend council for providing the public with the opportunity for involvement in the arena discussion, and hope the result will be the best possible for the community.
To councillor Wake: In the future, please spare us the big brother drivel of referenda being divisive. Have the courage to tell us that you are elected to govern for the next three years, and you intend to do so without public consultation, or join with council and truly engage the community. The divisiveness excuse is stale; a past council already used it to endorse the Olympics without community involvement. Using the excuse tells me a vociferous minority is trying to achieve a specific result outside the democratic process. I am prepared to live with decisions reached, as long as they were arrived at in a fair and democratic manner. When that is the case, it will be a reflection of the publics will. No need to protect us from divisiveness.
To the Housing Authority (WHA): please make a public statement as to what it is exactly we are trying to achieve with "affordable housing". The Barnfield saga raises this question: should the taxpayer subsidize land or home ownership for a select few? No. The operative words here are "affordable housing". Housing does not imply ownership of land or homes. It implies having a place to live. We probably agree that housing should be a basic human right. But for those desiring more, such as ownership, there are choices, priorities, sacrifices and responsibilities. These are up to the individual, and should remain outside subsidization.
Should the taxpayer subsidize rental housing? In the interests of the economic well-being of the community, most likely yes. Should businesses, benefiting most from it, carry a somewhat higher burden of it? Probably. To have truly affordable housing can only mean rental accommodation. The WHA as landlord, tied to the condition that to qualify for low rent you must be employed. You dont work, you dont qualify. For that is the open rental market. When public money is involved, administration has to be the highest standard. Real and perceived.
I may be wrong, and if I am, I apologize here upfront. But let me illustrate what an innocent bystander might presently perceive:
Business people owning 19 Mile units. Should they not have been sold to people on the waiting list, not yet established here?
One of the Barnfield plaintiffs, president of the Chamber of Commerce. Hello? Pillars of the community, good example and all that. Another of the plaintiffs appears to have benefited when MDC reverted to the open market, later owned a substantial home overlooking the lake, sold in the seven-plus figures. Not exactly destituteville. How do people like this qualify for affordable housing? You are already here and established. Do you need to be established a second time? With taxpayers help?
This is by no means intended as a reflection on any individuals, merely an illustration, and I want to believe all is above board. But it makes me feel there are serious flaws within WHA. Look at the large size and ostentatiousness of some of the homes built. Not the slightest whiff of "I cant afford to live here." I would have expected that some of the homes built would have been, lets say, a bit more "affordable".
To council: How are you going to deal with all this in the future? Are we continuing to flounder down the road to affordability in this manner? The excuse that it is a work in progress, and that we are still learning, does not sit well. We have been at this affordable housing game for more than 20 years; surely sometime in the interim the dime must have dropped.
The community is in dire need of serious dialogue and engagement on this issue. I am appalled at all the heads sticking in the sand, pretending everything is hunky dory. With build-out near, the overall, long-range taxation picture will need serious attention.
Are you planning an independent review of the WHA? An audit? Are there procedures and formulae in place within the WHA to deal with eventual return of subsidized lands back into the open market? Circumstances could very well change sometime in the future to make this necessary.
Are you planning a fundamental, independent review of city hall? Can we get a handle on some of these things before we are being steam-rolled by events heading our way?
I am sure there must be people other than myself who would also like answers to these questions. We would appreciate your reply, publicly or otherwise.
I am aware you have a tough row ahead of you, and I dont envy you the job. I appreciate your work, thank you for it, and wish you well for the next three years.
Can smart growth be retroactive?
I am very happy to see a public forum on the directions Pemberton can head. I think holding the forum during the day will limit locals input, but I can assume a report with the ability to modify any ideas will be presented to the public.
One area I'd like to see some thought applied is a rethinking of the industrial park.
1) Businesses in town benefit from walk-in traffic. Not many people are going to walk 6 km to buy from Mountain Building Supply.
2) Having the recycling centre in the industrial park does not make for easy access. Without that access, more materials will go to the dump, or be strewn about town as garbage. And remember the dump garbage will now be driven to Washington State.
3) Do I need to point out the increased driving needed to access the industrial park? Driving 12 km versus stopping on the way to Whistler (where most people work) is not very smart.
Maybe the industrial park should become another neighbourhood and light industry and shops in town should be encouraged.
Michael Rosen is quoted: "The past development activity in Pemberton has occurred within the context of Smart Growth principles. Pemberton is a dense community and the growth is taking place in a small area."
Isn't it "smart" to keep the amenities closer to that density?
Or are there plans to grow the community on agricultural land towards the park?
Rescued in Whistler
A big Thanks to the Whistler Mountain ski patrol and everyone involved.
Last week I had a fight with a big ol' tree in the Gun Barrel pillow area. Needless to say I got the s@%t kicked out of me by it and lost. I needed help and luckily a nearby skier (Justin) helped me out and waited with me until Patrol came. Everyone did an amazing job preparing me and getting me out of there and into a waiting helicopter. I thought I had really broken myself off good!
But here I am sitting up and walking around and its only been five days. Miraculous yes, but I don't think it would've been so easy if I hadn't been rescued off the hill with such speed and care.
I just wanted to say a huge Thanks to all the ski patrol who helped, along with that guy "Justin", my friends and brother (Shandy, Gabe Age and Renee) and to the Whistler Clinic for such great care.
After things like this I realize how great and tight-knit of a community Whistler is, contrary to what outsiders think sometimes.... I love it here and thats why I haven't left in well over a decade!
Peace and see you back up there; hell way sooner then later!
The Last Ski
In memory of Alex Petersen, who was taken from us on Jan. 2, 2006 at 11:20 a.m. on Blackcomb Mountain.
He rode with us.
He skied with us.
He is amongst us today.
He was one turn short,
And it took him away.
We will be with him,
To make the last turn.
And pause a moment,
For we will meet,
In the end.
Your smile will glow,
Take that last turn,
And look for us.
Living in the real world
Re: Year of Darwin (Pique letters Jan. 5)
Gee, it must be nice to adopt an Eastern philosophical view of Whistler like Allan Eaton has. It must come from having enough money, a house of your own and a certain self smugness. Who needs all these amenities?
Employees for one, the tourists when the weather isn't perfect for outdoor activities, the muni for its tax revenues, as well as the federal and provincial governments. Get the idea?
People are addressing real issues here, not philosophical ones.
We have no slums? Have you ever been inside some of these older condo developments? They might be high priced but I have seen better living conditions in Ontario Housing projects.
Without rents being reasonable you won't have any employees, and without them almost every business in town would be finished. And without all these businesses attracting people to this town, your high priced home will become as cheap as dirt. Something I bet in all of your self-righteousness you didn't even consider.
No racial wars? Considering that 97 per cent of the town's population is white, that is a no brainer.
We do have ski, snowboard and bike thefts everyday here, as well as the second highest incidence of STDs in the nation.
Drive-by shootings? Wait till the May long weekend when those punks from Surrey invade the town, as they do every year.
No murders yet but plenty of sexual assaults that somehow don't get published as it would hurt or tarnish this northern La-La Land's reputation.
Must be nice to live in a fantasy world such as yours, but the rest of us live in the real world. Pay it a visit one time whenever you get off or fall off your high horse!
Another reason to celebrate
Here comes Chinese New Year (Jan. 29), one of the most celebrated holidays in the world (celebrated in over 100 countries), which has its comparison to the Roman calendar New Year. First of all a feast that rivals many holiday meals, then red packets full of money to ensure prosperity for the new year. We celebrate an animal (not thing) based from Buddha that visited him when he was deathly ill. This was the start of Chinese Astrology, similar but different to the very popular astrological horoscope that is located at the back of this newsmagazine.
As one of the oldest civilizations in human history, Chinese New Year is celebrated by wishing good fortune, prosperity, good luck and good health. As a Canadian Citizen I am fortunate to celebrate this holiday for two weeks, giving this positive energy to one another. I am very proud that this culture has been part of Canadian history.
Whistler citizens can learn from this cultural holiday and many others that are celebrated. Recently Whistler has enjoyed Mitzvah (Jewish holiday), Christmas (Christian holiday) and New Year (Roman calendar). I truly believe that our diversity, from residents that live here and people that visit, sets us apart from any other resort in the world! It is very important that Whistler advertise this through all levels of media to bring more value to the resort.
Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, which gives us another new start to 2006 of creating an amazing life for us in Whistler and sharing it with people around the world. From this year of the dog (not thing), I wish all residents of Whistler:
Gung Hay Fat Choy (means may you become prosperous),
I wish to congratulate the Squamish gentleman on his linguistic skills wherein he described Allan Eatons letter to the editor regarding closure of the Woodfibre pulp mill south of Squamish as "tasteless and ill-informed."
He denied the stink, smog and pollution, which has been polluting the area since 1912, has anything to do with the Woodfibre mill. It was created by what he calls "the ever-increasing highway traffic." Point perhaps well-taken.
I respectfully remind the Squamish resident, however, of some other factors:
In B.C. 17 kraft mills discharge about 641 billion litres (141 billion gallons) of liquid effluent each year (Environment Canada Monitoring Report). Industry is trying to control this pollution and has spent billions of dollars, it reports, to comply with governmental regulations. What industry does not say is that part of that money provides for expansion of plants.
Air pollution from pulp mills contains hormone-disrupting and carcinogenic chemicals such as chlorinated phenols, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and VOCs. B.C.s coastal pulp mills are the largest provincial source of airborne dioxins and furans, which are among the most carcinogenic substances known.
Kraft pulp mills use sulphur chemicals to get fibre out of trees. The sulphur chemicals account for the rotten egg smell (kraft means strong in German). There are federal and provincial guidelines to deal with emissions on an individual permit basis. Yet, these are largely reliant on self-reporting by the mills.
And at the end of the day I have little doubt the foul smell and pollution have anything to do with the Woodfibre closure. Unfortunately for Canadian workers, new Asia Pacific pulp mills can supply good quality pulp about one-third cheaper than B.C. mills.
One potential light at the end of the tunnel might be the saving of jobs through conventional logging in the Squamish area. A danger which accompanies that concept is if the mill is permitted to sell its timber rights to the Japanese or other offshore producers, in which case the "light at the end of the tunnel" becomes an oncoming train.