Ah, What a wonderful world we live in at Whistler.
I laughed until my tummy ached when the Pique article appeared last week on the options for "upgrading" the Sea to Sky Highway.
First came a snicker when I read "there are even discussions about paving the B.C Rail line to get around road closures."
But the Laugh of the Year was in the next paragraph: "It has been estimated the road would be closed for four hours each day and eight hours each night four days a week, for three seasons of the year for four to six years."
If that wasn't hilarious, I don't know what is. Let me now defer to the Alaska Highway, which was built 60 years ago (completed Nov. 20, 1942) through unmapped wilderness.
It is 1,500 miles long. It took eight months to build from scratch, through mountains and muskeg. It included 133 bridges and thousands of culverts. Granted there were 11,000 military troops working those eight months, alongside 16,000 workmen, and 7,000 pieces of equipment.
If you crunch the numbers, they built the road at the rate of 44 miles per week. Now, 60 years later, we have widening the Sea to Sky Highway coming in at "four to six years."
On Sept 28, 1996, the Alaska Highway was designated as an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Perhaps in the year 2006 well hear about the road to Whistler being designated a Historic Event that never happened.
Meanwhile, let's all keep laughing.
I oppose the proposed bylaw amendments on tourist accommodation. I feel that they are unwarranted, will not achieve the stated objective, will just add another layer of bureaucratic control of the rights of private property owners, and will create nothing but resentment. They should be permanently withdrawn. This initiative by the bylaw department, gives arbitrary powers to an un-elected civil servant that could easily lead to abuse of the enforcement or decision-making process. There is already a legitimate public concern over the conduct, attitude and agenda of city hall in its TA rental "enforcement" activities and comments.
Basically, all TA-zoned properties have the legal right to rent, without any bylaw licence requirement by city hall. I am advised that if the RMOW brings in these licencing bylaws in their current or any modified form, they can be legally challenged and overturned on various grounds.
What the RMOW needs to do is to address the underlying problem that it created almost four years ago. That is to correct the inequity that currently exists on the issue of TA rentals. Because council cancelled the "spot zoning" option, and did not offer any alternative, it disenfranchised the majority of Whistler chalet owners. It then labelled all these chalet owners who would like to have the right to rent for temporary accommodation as "illegal" and tried to marginalize and discredit them, after denying them any rights to have a means of applying for TA rentals. This is the most pressing singular reason for dissent in this community that the RMOW needs to address in a constructive, pragmatic and equitable fashion.
Apparently, council was originally told that they could not "technically" licence chalets for TA rentals, which was their original plan, and that is why council tried the "spot zoning" option. That option was then discarded. This ad hoc approach to the chalet TA rental issue has been disastrous, divisive and confusing.
However, I am advised by two municipal lawyers that where there is a will, there is a way, and under the current Local Government Act, the RMOW could easily, creatively and effectively address the issue, and therefore eliminate the current "problem" that it has created. That is, to permit people in non-TA chalets to apply, with reasonable conditions, to provide TA rentals. Further alienating non-TA chalet owners is not the answer. It will only increase the dissension and resentment, and trigger more lawsuits. This is not the sensible, rational, moral, ethical or responsible approach for Whistler taxpayers and property owners. A fresh approach by the RMOW and city hall is needed to positively and constructively address, and fairly and finally resolve, the TA issue.
The current "TA enforcement" policies are not working, and will never effectively work because of the underlying unresolved inequities. There is a desperate need for a positive and conciliatory change of climate and attitude, to address this current TA rental unfairness. Further punitive approaches and making non-TA chalet owners feel like common criminals will simply not work. This sad situation begs for an equitable resolution. Please use your efforts in a positive and constructive way to do so.
Sometimes you've just got to go without something to really appreciate it. As a Brit escaping the avaricious South-East of England, Whistler provided the most perfect of antidotes. Now, after two years of getting beyond the tourist facade and into the far more wonderful reality of the village, I have been forced to return to the UK to keep my bank manager from the funny farm. I left for a planned five months. That was over a year ago now, and yet I'm still typing at you from the UK. It hurts, damn it, it hurts!
The experience of jumping back and forth between these vastly differing environments has brought home some interesting truths. Firstly, the real reason I'm so desperate to get back to Whistler? It's not the mountains or the sport, not even Lifty Lager. It's because Whistler is one of the last Western bastions of the truly CO-OPERATIVE culture.
People in Whistler do nice things for each other secure in the knowledge that everyone does it and the good stuff will find its way around to everyone including themselves. An attitude lost to most of the Western world, alas. When you get back to somewhere like the UK you see just how different a competitive culture is. And how much worse for everyone.
What worries me is that it only takes a few individuals or ONE company to tip a co-operative culture off its knife-edge and into the misery of backstabbing, sharp-practicing, hard-ball life. There have always been people and companies who know no better than to try to make everyone work in their cynical way, and when they succeed it's only through playing on the weaknesses of individuals most notably their greed and lack of integrity.
People will sell their land for development projects they know aren't right. They will take money to do things they know will damage the village in the long run. They will be lured by international corporations promising great rewards, knowing the price will be paid by the entire community. And their excuses? Why, quotes from the Standard Book of Excuses for the Morally Challenged, of course all invented and propagated by the MBA-toting, greed-driven, Enron-backing scum that see our village as another source of pension funds. We've all heard the excuses a thousand times:
"if you're not going forward, you're going backwards;"
"you can't stand in the way of progress;"
"I may as well do it - somebody's BOUND to;"
and the hair-pullingly infuriating classic:
"it's inevitable anyway."
We CAN stop the village from losing its wonderful way of functioning and keep Whistler a place where people don't ever think to ask "what's in it for me?" These people can ONLY succeed in wrecking the place if we let them. We can genuinely stop the developers and work out how to make things better with what we have. Itll take a lot of backbone and soul-searching from all of us. But if we're going to work out how to move forward, can we please have an outright ban on anyone who uses any of the above excuses? Im sick of hearing them.
I would hope that all mayoral candidates in the upcoming municipal elections will support a call for a referendum on the Olympics after the final bid book is released on Jan. 10. If the vote were held in November during the municipal elections, although it would save money, it would not allow for full information to be available to the public.
When the full information becomes public, in addition to the interim report of the provincial auditor general, British Columbians should decide where they stand on the Olympics based on a simple, straightforward question: "Do you support the Vancouver/Whistler 2010 Winter Olympic Bid?"
If the provincial government does not proceed with a referendum, the cities of Vancouver and Whistler should proceed with their own votes. If there's so much support for the bid as Jack Poole and Gordon Campbell claim, then they shouldn't be worried about the citizens of the province and city deciding how their tax dollars are going to be spent over the next decade.
Impacts of Olympics on Community Coalition
Saying "Thank you " can be difficult, but Nesters made it look easy on Saturday, Sept. 14. They once again showed the community just how powerful those two words are with their Customer Appreciation Day. Then they multiplied that thank you by bringing staff and suppliers together, creating an on site festival for the community.
They also showed their tremendous support for the children of Whistler by designating Spring Creek Elementary and Whistler Secondary Libraries, as the benefactors of the sales from the event. We are extremely grateful.
Thank you Nesters for a great party and your presence in this community.
Spring Creek Community School PAC
Once again Whistler residents, visitors and businesses have made the Whistler Terry Fox Run a huge success. This year, we had almost double the participants and raised over $4,000 for cancer research. Most importantly, the legacy of an incredible man, Terry Fox, lives on and everyone had a wonderful time celebrating his life and his marathon of hope.
A heartfelt thanks to all of our dedicated volunteers, including many kids, who return year after year with huge smiles on their faces. The event could also not take place without the support of our sponsors: Cows, Head/Tyrolia, McDonald's, Marshall Arts, Mountain FM, Nesters, The Pique, The Question, Sabre Rentals, Salomon and Wild Willy's. An extra special thanks to Riverside Campground and Riverside Cafe for hosting the event, Laura Nedelak and Barry on the keyboard for your wonderful tunes and the Whistler Lions Club for a fabulous feast. Not to mention, mother nature for keeping the rain away.
Thank you Whistler for continuing to support this truly Canadian event.
Terry would be proud!